Why You Are Attracted to Puzzles When You Are Depressed

As in summer by 2021, my mental health has declined towards depression-and I’m definitely not the only one struggling right now. Along with other depressed gamers, I turned to something that is always there for us when we’re down: puzzle games.

I have long suffered from depression and anxiety, and at these low points I always choose games that challenge my brain and occupy my busy mind. Am I looking for clues to a puzzle-heavy detective game like Jenny LeClue: Detective or the pain of my heart on the beautiful level of The Gardens Between, I noticed that these puzzles made me feel, at least for a few moments, like I was keeping my head above water.

And, as I suspect, I’m not the only one who can tear up puzzles when they’re heavy. Take Harsh Goyal, a dog training blogger and Rubix cube aficionado based in Delhi, India, who became puzzles amid the stress and anxiety of Covid-19 lockdowns last year. Goyal said he thinks of the puzzles as a series of dots waiting to be connected in the right way.

“The excitement of connecting the dots is so intense that you’re completely lost in it,” he says. “So even if I’m upset, angry, or upset before any puzzle starts, I always come to a satisfying state after the puzzle.”

Goyal chooses intimidating offline puzzles, such as crosswords and a 1,000 -piece gradient floor puzzle, to calm work -related stress or help him fall asleep when his mind is racing at night. But according to London -based trauma therapist Olivia James, it doesn’t matter what format your puzzles come in – solving them is good because it gives a sense of restraint and satisfaction.

“It’s very satisfying about the puzzles because there are no surprises,” James said. “Nothing unexpected happens in a puzzle.”

Focusing in such a way that your mind is occupied but not overly challenged, James said, is very helpful for people with depression, anxiety, and stress because it offers what he describes as a “little holiday from your myself. ” For some people, this “gentle focus” takes the form of caring for a garden or tidying up a room, while for others, puzzles fill this space.

The difference between traditional soft focus and puzzles, however, is the satisfaction of an “elegant solution” in the end, according to James. In a world full of ever-changing rules and expectations, the obvious rules and codes present in puzzles make the solver feel in control — the rules of the puzzle cannot be changed. like, so the question is if you can solve it.

For game developer Simon Joslin, cofounder of The Voxel Agents and level designer for The Gardens Between, designing large puzzles is just part of teaching the player that code and then questioning it.

“You’re always stacking knowledge because the player finally learns the language of the game,” Joslin says of designing puzzle games.

As a player, you fall into a world with new rules and physics, and beating the level is only part of learning and applying the instructions. Joslin said, “It’s not a language you’ve spoken before, so you have to learn the basics of our language and understand how to use it and how not to use it.”

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