In 2016, I was fired from a job I loved.
I’d worked hard to earn a seat at the executive table of an agency, giving up on many of my other aspirations in the process. But when faced with a CEO that lacked an understanding of boundaries, I lost my cool one fateful day and found myself out of a job.
I was heartbroken. It was hard not to take it as a personal failure. I was angry, and even with therapy, I couldn’t stop replaying the events in my head.
In the throes of a deep depression, I needed to occupy my time. In spite of considering myself a writer, I lacked the inspiration to write. In fact, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything. On days I could pull myself together, I applied for jobs. On days I couldn’t, I cried. When I wasn’t crying, I scrolled through Facebook and Reddit, which paradoxically made me feel both connected and disconnected at the same time.
Players start with a set amount of in-game currency and must use it per each attempt, winning it back when they successfully complete a level. When they have no more currency remaining, they either have to buy more or have to wait out a timer. As someone who spends very little on microtransactions, the timer was a great way to force me to take breaks and shift my attention to other tasks.
In the aftermath of being fired, I spent hours connecting dots. Each time I passed to the next stage felt like an accomplishment. Slowly but surely, these little wins improved my mood and allowed me to celebrate little wins in my own life.
I continued to play the game for months, stopping only once I became bored of it after more than 300 levels. I decided it was finally time to say goodbye to the little puzzle game that helped me regain some balance in my life.
For many, a mobile game may not seem to be the best way to cope with life’s challenges. But for me, it was certainly healthier than any outward expression of anger.
Frequently, when we think of gamers, we think of people who play RPGs or FPS games. But gaming is so much more than that. While a game like Dots & Co. may not have the prestige allure of Death Stranding or the fast-paced action of Modern Warfare, there’s a place in the ethos for games that are simple, repetitive and, in some ways, mundane.
With that, it’s time to give those puzzle games the appreciation they deserve for the roles they play in our lives. If you’re looking for a simple way to reflect on challenges in your own life, perhaps a simple puzzle game can also help you connect the dots.
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