By Neal - 9/26/2020
Ah, Solitaire. It’s been used as an escape from work for decades, but it’s also one of the best ways to pass time if you are looking to develop a skill or another hobby. It’s taken over the world, in large part thanks to its inclusion as part of Microsoft’s operating systems. But just what is it about Solitaire that makes it so addictive to so many?
First and foremost, Solitaire is addictive because it’s easy to learn the ropes. Anyone can play a few games and get the general hang of it, which enables them to score a few lucky wins and feel that they have the chance to be good at it more skillfully. This produces a dopamine rush, which is one of the key ways in which something can become addictive and make something more compulsive.
At the same time, it does take some time and skill to become consistently good at Solitaire. It’s not a game that’s addictive right away, as addiction is a process. The game has a learning curve. This makes it more addictive because people can see how they improve over time and eventually want to beat their own scores. As a result, Solitaire can fuel dopamine receptors in the brain, with each successive high score providing a (theoretically) better dopamine rush. Of course, like all addictions, this dopamine rush rarely actually gets more powerful.
As an especially relaxing game, Solitaire can easily become addictive for those with a surplus of free time on their hands. Boredom is an easy way to get hooked on habits just like Solitaire. In addition, Solitaire doesn’t feature many flashy or exciting events or images, too, which helps it be attractive even to quiet, sensitive people who may not be as vulnerable to addiction to more exciting forms of recreation like video games.
Solitaire isn’t like other addictions in that it’s something you eat or drink. As a result, people usually don’t feel too bad about spending hours on the game, as it’s hard to call playing a computer game an “addiction”. However, Solitaire, and other behavioral addictions, can be just as intense as chemical additions.
Ultimately, Solitaire is used as an escape for many, either from the boredom of their workplace or from the stresses of their day. Solitaire has easy to define rules and ways to win, and you can always start another game if you don’t initially succeed on your first attempt. This isn’t reflective of the real world, where failure is a common occurrence and repetition is not guaranteed to eventually result in a win. Many addicts use their addictions to escape daily stresses – Solitaire is no different for some people. In a way, Solitaire is a lot easier to handle than reality. In the end, so long as you don’t let Solitaire distract you from your responsibilities or soak up too much of your time, it can be a great recreational tool.