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I'm Achieving Zen Through An Addictive Phone Game Called 'Super Hexagon'

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 24/03/2016 Damon Beres
SUPER HEXAGON © HuffPost via YouTube Gaming SUPER HEXAGON

Sometimes, you don't really play video games to have fun.

This won't be news to anyone accustomed to the most grueling titles -- "Bloodborne," "Ikaruga" or, stretching back, "Contra" and "Mega Man," to name a few -- but it's true. Certain video games are there to destroy you and build you back up again. The experience is mentally grueling, maybe even edifying, but you couldn't call it "fun" in the way that driving a car really fast in "Grand Theft Auto" or shooting aliens in "Halo" is. It's kind of like finishing a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle in fast motion.

While some have written about the cognitive benefits of action video games, my anecdotal view is pretty simple: Overcoming challenges in these super-hard games brings about a sense of focus, accomplishment and clearheadedness that you might call "zen." That's why I'm trying to conquer "Super Hexagon," a rip-your-hair-out game available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS.

Here's how the $2.99 game works. You steer a little triangle left and right to avoid barriers speeding toward the middle of the screen in the form of geometric shapes. It's simple, but the experience is intense: Not only does the game move fast, but thumping music and vivid graphics help overwhelm the senses.

When you first try the game, there are three difficulty modes. If you can last for 60 seconds in each one, you'll unlock three even harder settings.

The Huffington Post has featured articles before about navigating the sometimes mysterious ways technology impacts our lives. In January, I spent a week without phone notifications to see if it calmed my life down. Now we'll see what happens when I put my mind toward clearing the six maniacally difficult levels in "Super Hexagon."

You can watch a 14-minute session, with commentary, in the video above. If you'd just like to see what it looks like to finally clear "Hexagoner," the second out of three initial difficulty settings in the game, click here to skip ahead to that part in the video. Note that the music -- while great! -- isn't to everyone's taste, so set your volume accordingly before going in.

Fourteen minutes might seem like a long time to sit there and watch someone play a video game. But if you were being generous, you might consider this a neat way to witness someone develop a skill in real time and hit a new landmark.

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