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Sugar Binge: My Addiction to Candy Crush Saga

photo: terren in Virginia on flickr

photo: terren in Virginia on flickr

Are you one of the eight million people who currently play Candy Crush Saga?

Or are you someone who thinks “Candy Crush Saga” describes the aftermath of a sugar binge?

I was in the latter category until a few short weeks ago.

Then I read an article about how Candy Crush Saga is one of the most popular video games out there.

The article talked about how people everywhere are matching up little candies on their phones and mobile devices, partaking in the mania that is Candy Crush.

It’s sweeping the nation! You have to check it out!

So I did.

Even though I’m not much of a video game person, I installed the little sucker on my phone and gave it a whirl.

photo: David Guo on flickr

photo: David Guo on flickr

The basic concept of the game is that you move little candies around the board in order to match three in a row. When you get three in a row, you get points, more candies come on the board, the skies part and everything is groovy.

When you make particularly beneficial moves, especially ones with special candies, all kinds of wonderful things happen. Bombs go off and clear out obstacles! Striped candies explode and entire rows are wiped clean! Little fish come swimming on the screen and do-something-that’s-probably-great-but-I-have-no-idea-what-it-is!!

After a few days of playing Candy Crush, I decided to write a blog post about it. I would call it 10 Reasons Why Candy Crush Saga Is a Spiritual Teacher.

I started to compile my list:

1. You can get stuck on a level and have to persevere in order to overcome it, just like on the spiritual path!

2. You need to learn to ask for help, like asking friends for more “lifetimes” so you can keep playing. (Not that I did this. I was way too embarrassed to admit I was even playing the game.)

3. It puts you in contact with a benign and generous deity, like when the manufacturer of the game made level 65 easier because people complained it was too hard.

When I meditated, I saw horizontal and vertical lines being cleared in my mind’s eye. It made me feel like the energy of the cosmos was zooming through me, clearing my chakras.

How great was this?! A video game that made me feel more enlightened!

delicious done

And then it started to change.

I had a week off and was committed to loafing. Serious loafing.

I was allowing myself to do whatever I wanted, purposely focusing on non-productive activities.

In my day to day life, I tend to be really disciplined. It allows me to get a lot done and feel good while I’m doing so.

But I also like to keep things in balance. And my week of loafing was part of this balance.

I read. I slept. I took long walks. I watched movies.

And I played a lot of Candy Crush Saga.

photo: Ian Hughes on flickr

photo: Ian Hughes on flickr

Looking back on it, I can see that the warning signs were there. I just chose to ignore them.

Like when I’d set an intention to read a particular book or watch a particular movie, only to have that intention hijacked by my inability to stop playing Candy Crack Crush.

Or when all sense of time disappeared when I was using playing.

Yes, all sense of time disappears when I’m doing something creative like writing or playing the piano. But this wasn’t like that. This was more like the lost time of an alcoholic binge. Like I can’t believe the whole weekend went by and I wasn’t present for any of it.

And then there was the warning I stumbled upon online.

I was trolling for tips and hints about how to play the game, and I found a list of the 10 tips to help you master Candy Crush.

The number one tip was that the game was totally addictive and you should quit immediately if possible.

This managed to send a tiny signal through my thick walls of denial, but not enough to get me to stop.

I had it bad.

photo: Hector Alejandro on flickr

photo: Hector Alejandro on flickr

Finally, the day came.

The day things got ugly.

I had planned to have an early dinner so my wife Melissa and I could watch a movie when she was done working.

Needless to say, this didn’t happen. I literally could not stop playing the game.

Must. Match. More. Candies.

It got to the point where I could barely make sense of the board. My ability to concentrate was totally shot, and yet I insisted on continuing to play.

Luckily, I do have an actual spiritual practice other than Candy Crack Crush, and it allowed me to witness my behavior from a calm, objective place.

As I was crashing and burning with the game, I said out loud:

This game is making me miserable. I am totally addicted and I cannot stop.

Speaking it out loud wasn’t enough to make me stop. Not right away. I just kept using playing, and the calm part of me kept watching.

After a few more minutes, I spoke out loud again. I think I need to delete this game from my phone. I need to step away and get my life back.

Once again, I didn’t stop. But it was a lifeline, of sorts. A connection to a part of myself that was not addicted to the game. A part of myself that was chill and loving and kind.

What happened next can only be described as a gift from the Universe.

photo: David Sedlmayer on flickr

photo: David Sedlmayer on flickr

After hours and hours of trying to beat a particular level, I finally did it. All the little candies lined up in just the right way and the little fishies swam across the board, declaring my victory.

Did I take this as my cue to walk away?

No. No, I did not.

I took it as my cue to keep playing for a little longer, just to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that even though I finally tasted victory by beating a difficult level, the entire experience was still making me violently unhappy.

When I proved my point – yes, this is still making me violently unhappy – I finally did it. I put down the phone.

Actually, first I deleted the game from my phone, and then I put it down.

I immediately reported the whole thing to Melissa and we had a good laugh. Although it was more like part-laugh, part-wince.

photo: Andy Eick on flickr

photo: Andy Eick on flickr

It was a classic addiction story, condensed into a period of a few weeks:

Everything started out great. My drug of choice helped me relax and have fun. I was able to use in moderation. Then moderation turned into excess that I insisted was moderation. Until I could no longer deny that I was hopelessly and utterly addicted. Then, and only then, could I walk away.

When I was still playing the game, deep in denial that I had a Candy Crack Crush problem, I told myself I couldn’t stop playing because I needed to do research for the great blog post I was going to write about the deep spiritual elements of the game.

Turns out I got to write an even better blog post.

One about the pernicious power of addiction. And the ability to overcome it. About the power of the witness consciousness. And the ability to laugh at our crazy human lives.

I guess Candy Crush Saga was a spiritual teacher after all.

divine candy crush done

Any other Candy Crack addicts out there? Or addicts of any sort? Share your comments below!

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15 Responses to Sugar Binge: My Addiction to Candy Crush Saga

  1. Mary April 29, 2014 at 2:52 am #

    I ride a van pool to and from work. 45 min each way. Some of these games, like “fill in the blank”ville and Candy Crush are a fun way to pass the time. Until one day, for various reasons, they weren’t fun anymore.

    Once I realized these particular games weren’t fun any more. The teachings of Abraham-Hicks (teachings to which I am completely addicited) started to sound off in my head. I kept hearing, “Get Happy! Get Happy! Get Happy!” I stopped playing and blocked them on Facebook. I also never looked back. Life is to precious to spend time on something that isn’t fun. Even if it is to pass the time on a 45 min trip.

    Scrabble is still fun. So is Words with Friends. And a silly little game that’s been around forever called Bejeweled Blitz that will still gives me the satisfaction of things that blow up and sparkle. It has a built in stop if I run out of coins. (Unless I’m willing to pay real money for a virtual product and unless it a book, movie or music, I’m not.)

    Now on the van pool, when I find myself caught up with all of my games, I take the time to read. Sometimes I even let the games wait to keep reading a particularly good book. And I found some great books! In fact there are two books in particular that I even read twice! What’s more is I would consider reading both of them again, they are that addictive. So much so that I am willing to risk becoming a book dealer/pusher and encourage any of you step way from your games and pick these two books up right now. They are by the same author, David Michie. The first one is titled, “The Dalai Lama’s Cat”. The second is the sequel, “The Dalai Lama’s Cat and the Art of Purring”.

    Happy gaming and reading! ~Namaste~

    • Kat April 29, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

      Dear Mary,

      Since I’ve never dealt with a ‘pusher’ before, even a book ‘pusher’, I am not sure how to go about offering gratitude for getting me ‘hooked’ on “The Dalai Lama’s Cat,” which I purchased this morning after reading your response.

      I am currently on vacation contemplating a change/move and this book couldn’t have been more timely! I am half-way through it, and having the best time reading it!

      I find the writing similar to Z’s style in that it’s informative and humorous, and what I am taking away from it is invaluable!

      Bountiful Blessings from a ‘satisfied customer’! :)

      • Mary April 29, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

        I’m pleased to know you are enjoying these delightful books!

    • Z Egloff April 30, 2014 at 8:29 am #

      Hi Mary,

      I like that you brought Abe into the equation. I, too, am a big fan of their work. The awareness that Candy Crack was making me miserable, even though it started out making me happy, was the key to letting go of it. Yay Abe!

      And thank you for sharing your other, healthier addiction with all of us. I’ll have to check out these books! I have also started reading more lately – it’s a much more satisfying addiction than Candy Crack.

      Thanks for your comment!


  2. Sherry April 29, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    I played Words with Friends for a short time on Facebook. My Sister keeps telling me “You’ve got to play Candy Crush. It’s so much fun!” I am not really into online games so I am not very worried about the Candy (Crack) Crush Addiction problem.

    That said – Every night when I get home….

    The first thing I do is crank up my computer (I’ve been on a computer all day at work!) and check what I’ve missed on Facebook. I am so afraid I am going to miss something or someone’s reply to what I posted the night before. I don’t get off until I’m sure I’ve checked everything out and that I’ve Liked everyone’s posts who are important to me. By the time I get offline, I barely have time to get ready for bed (I get home around 8pm).

    Just last night, I decided I really don’t have to go onto Facebook every night. I can do something else constructive. Read, sew, etc. And, now, I’ve read your Blog Post about being hooked on a game. My going onto Facebook every night is the same addiction.

    So, thank you, Z for showing the way, as usual!

    • Z Egloff April 30, 2014 at 8:34 am #

      Hi Sherry,

      Yes – the trick of Facebook. I have also found that I have to really watch/monitor my use of Facebook. It’s really easy to get sucked into it, in a way that feels numbing. Lately I’ve been pruning my newsfeed to only include people I actually know and/or people who aren’t posting 15 “inspiring” sayings a day. That seems to help, but what’s really best for me is to just limit how much time I spend on there. I know that some people only allow a certain amount of minutes a day/week. I’m happy that my Candy Crack experience helped you to reevaluate FB. And now your comment reminds me to continue to evaluate my FB interaction as well! :)


  3. squirrel April 29, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    Good morning Z!

    I’m glad that you have found a spiritual message in Candy Crush. I have found spirituality in some of my addictions, too. It’s either all god, or it’s not, right? haha

    My pompous inner-hipster is screaming “I played Candy Crush before it was cool!” At its inception, I cleared a few levels for my ex per her request. I somewhat enjoyed it, but never got really into it.

    In my teens, on the other hand, I was addicted to an MMORPG called EverQuest or, EverCrack, as it is affectionately known (I was an EverCrackhead haha). I started playing that (and its sequel) at its inception, as well (not only am I a hipster, but I’m also a nerd).

    You know, if you’re looking for another video game addiction, you can download and play the free version of EverQuest. It’s what the original was (sans expansion packs) 15 years ago, but with slightly better graphics and no monthly fee. Fun fact: EQ was the first MMORPG on the market, and the only video game I can think of, aside from Diablo 2, that has stood the tests of time. If you like third person bird’s eye hack-n-slash games, check out Diablo. Phenomenal game. there’s a reason it is still popular after 15+ years.

    And now you know everything you never knew you never wanted to know about video games. :) Here’s another fun fact, tho: 12 step recovery is now available to video game addicts. (“My name is Z, and I’m a Candy Crush addict.”)

    Love ya!

    • Z Egloff April 30, 2014 at 8:37 am #

      Hi Squirrel,

      Yes! All God! Even Candy Crack!

      I am happy for your hipster nerd status. This is truly something to flaunt, IMHO.

      Also, thank you for your attempts to lure me into yet another addictive game. And for letting me know that there’s a 12 step program for me when I’ve had enough. 😉


      • squirrel April 30, 2014 at 11:43 am #

        It’s all just part of the service. 😉

  4. Marlene April 30, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    I am a Pinterest pinner. I do not consider myself addicted, but have discovered I am sitting on the tipping point. The clue I had reached this exulted pinnacle (the addict tipping point) is when I tried making a new ‘board’ and was told I had reached my maximum. When I tell other pinners of my dilemma I always receive a surprised, “They have a maximum?” Sadly, yes, they do. To justify my, ah, zeal (no, no, not addiction) to pinning, I point out I save huge amounts of money by pinning all the shoes and cloths I love instead of wandering through stores and filling my closet. Plus I find wonderful places to add to my ‘Bucket List’. I have found brilliant ideas for recycling things into useful items I didn’t even know was possible. Plus the many ideas from the remodel of our master-bathroom (my husband added drawers to the bottom of our vanity and modified other areas to use more space) to exciting information on garden design, heath, money management and ….. oh, oh, and let’s not forget the really cool products like a cover for your phone that looks like an old book, those wonderful Google Glasses, a scanner that hooks into your iPad (not that I have an iPad but still…), a wall socket with a built-in extension cord, tiny little speakers that plug into a wall socket and receive your sound via bluetooth, and…..

    See, I am not addicted, just excited about new ideas and dedicated to saving money, space. Plus, I never know when I might want to buy the fridge where you just shove your food into gel and don’t even have to worry about opening and closing a door!

    • Z Egloff April 30, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

      Hi Marlene,

      Wow – this is a whole new world for me. I’ve heard of Pinterest, but I don’t know much about it. So thanks for the mini tutorial! :)

      I think, as you say, that there can be a fine line between passion and addiction. I’ve had times where I’ve given myself a hard time about being “addicted” to something – like a book or a TV show or a person – only to find, in the end, that it was more of a passion than an addiction that it served me really, really well. And then sometimes it’s not either/or – it’s both a passion and an addiction and who is to say that it’s harmful?

      Ultimately, we get to decide what we do. And, ultimately, we each get to decide what feeds us and what doesn’t. So there.

      If it feeds you – like with the gel fridge – go for it!! :)


  5. Karen May 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    So much fun food for thought here.

    We definitely want to spend time doing things that feel good to us, so if these games and other online activities fill the bill, that seems fine and dandy. But if they start to seem more of a nuisance, distraction, and time-waster, as in Z’s case with Candy (Cane, was it?), then it’s good to move on.

    I think it’s a case of finding and re-finding our individual footing with it all.

    I got a kick out of how Marlene described her ZEAL for Pinterest. Hopefully she’ll keep us posted on all the new trends. :)

    • Z Egloff May 6, 2014 at 11:06 am #

      Hi Karen,

      Yes, the “feeling good” yardstick is a great way for assessing what we’re doing. In my case, I went from feelin’ good to feelin’ like crap. That’s when it was time to let the Candy Crack go. :)


  6. Billie May 4, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

    I don’t really play these games too much. I do play some Spider Solitary on the phone a bit and some Bejeweled the exploding is just FUN!! I spend my share of time watching the TED Talks. Mins turn into hours when that bug hits. There is always something to do!! I am looking forward to following the blogs from Z now.
    Let’s do this!

    • Z Egloff May 6, 2014 at 11:04 am #

      Hi Billie,

      I like TED talks too. To me, that’s a positive addiction, or ZEAL, as Marlene might say.

      Thanks for dropping by! :)


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