3 business lessons you can learn from Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga. A simple yet addictive game that requires you to swipe blocks of the same type to create chains. It’s incredibly popular with young and old alike and boasts bright, cartoon-style images aimed at kids. So what can it possibly teach adults about business?

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1. Never quit

Candy Crush Saga is addictive in two ways. Firstly, it’s attractive because it taps into the natural human instinct for small, achievable goals. When you complete a series of these small achievable goals (i.e. matching blocks to gain points), you complete the level, releasing more dopamine in your brain. Secondly, the game’s mechanics allow for perfect manipulation of ‘near miss’ syndrome. Studies have shown that just missing out on winning provokes a more powerful response than either winning or losing, and Candy Crush Saga utilises this to its advantage. However, it can also be turned into a useful skill for real life business situations. How many times have you felt demotivated because you’ve failed at something? How many times have you given up on something because it hasn’t turned out quite right?

In Candy Crush Saga, you simply try the level again. If you fail several times, you may have to wait for your lives to regenerate – or annoy your Facebook friends and get them to help you out – but you’re determined to try again once you have the chance. So if a project isn’t going in the direction you want, take a tip from Candy Crush Saga. Step back, take a few hours or days out, then come back to the problem and look at it again with fresh eyes. You could even set yourself a reminder to get back to the task at a specific time. As long as you don’t give up, you can achieve your aims.

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2. Always have a strategy

When you start getting beyond about level 95 in Candy Crush Saga, you need to start thinking strategically to succeed. It may take a few attempts at a level (or even weeks of attempts for legendary level 97), but once you have a strategy down it’s just a case of working to implement it, refining as you go along. The same is true for any business. Look at the future as well as the present on both a small scale (by project or task) and a large bigger picture one. Use all the attempts you have and what you’ve learned and achieved so far to improve your approach throughout. If you need to ditch your complete strategy and replace it with a new one, do it. If the end result is better, it’s worth taking the time and all the attempts needed to get it right.

3. If it’s not working, rethink

Many of us can get lost in the details or apply an inferior strategy because it got there in the end, it’s been done before, etc. We’re all guilty of breaking Einstein’s rule and applying the same measures whilst expecting different results. In Candy Crush Saga, when you experience a near miss situation and only just fail to complete a level, you’re likely to go back and repeat your strategy again. Why, when it failed the last time? Because the effects of near miss syndrome are happening in your brain. In actual fact, you’re more likely to get frustrated that you can’t apply exactly the same strategy as last time – the coloured blocks are in different places in different patterns, and it might not be as good a board as you experienced previously. This can actually be a good thing as it’s forcing you to think in different ways and approach the puzzle with a different outlook. Business-wise, this links back to the first point of coming back to the situation with fresh eyes. Rearrange the blocks, turn your ideas inside out, and see what else you can come up with. Can what you’re doing be improved in any way to make it more efficient, help it achieve more, or turn it from an ‘ok’ into a big success?

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Regardless of whether you like it or hate it, Candy Crush Saga influences and directs people in interesting ways, and it’s worth considering them in more depth before you write it off as ‘just a game’. What are you learning from your – or other people’s – actions and how can you apply them outside the game’s happy fantasy world to improve your business? Hopefully I’ve shown that it’s not as crazy as you might think.

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