I admit it. Every night, before I snuggle into bed, I play the game Bejeweled 3. If you’ve played the game, you understand the relaxing qualities of this diversion. Brightly colored jewels glisten against a black screen while calm background music lulls you into complacency. The object of the game? Line up similar colored jewels in groups of three or more by shifting the gems from row to row or column to column. It doesn’t matter which specific level I play. The “Classic” mode allows me to pull my mind away from the day’s negative events. “Poker” focuses my attention on maneuvering those ruby squares or white orbs into a flush. If I want more of a distraction, I select “Lightning” or “Ice Storm” because the element of speed tunes my mind onto the flaming diamonds and exploding successes. I always end my evening play with “Butterflies” since the mesmerizing music induces a near hypnotic state for me. Even the little squeal of a butterfly being eaten by the spider doesn’t break the soothing effect of the game.
When I started playing an earlier version of Bejeweled a few years ago, I didn’t predict it would become as important to my nightly ritual as brushing my teeth. My husband and son both play WOW, claiming the stress reducing benefits of rolling a character, leveling up, and interacting within an RPG. They could never entice me into their world, though. But lining up little colorful gems and watching them zap and explode reduces my daily anxieties into miniscule irritations. Once I play through my rounds, I stretch out in bed and close my eyes. I don’t visualize any of the day’s dramas. No worry or tension accompanies me as I slip into slumber. Instead, I visualize all of those wonderful jewels under my control, lining up perfectly, and reducing my world into simple geometric shapes.
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman