This mobile phone game is so addictive it is ruining people's lives and destroying their sleep cycles

If you don’t know what “1010!” is, then click away from this story right now. Because this mobile phone app from GramGames is so addictive it will ruin your life and make your friends hate you.

Remember what happened when you were introduced for the first time to Candy Crush Saga? Or 2048? Or Dots?

It’s way worse than that. 

A typical reference to 1010! on Twitter looks like this:

As Jillian Lyle wrote on The Odyssey recently, “I’ve ruined other peoples’ lives by convincing them to get the game and start playing it. I apologise if you are one of these people. The importance of beating a friend’s high score on 1010! is unexplainable; it’s a vicious cycle of unhealthy competition. I’ve essentially made it my life’s goal to beat my friends’ 1010! high scores.”

This woman now sets her alarm 15 minutes early in the morning to get extra games in. It’s that bad. People go without sleep because they’re playing it:

My name is Jim — hi Jim! — and I am addicted to 1010! I can confess, it is weirdly difficult to go to sleep at night when your phone is right there, and you can fit just one more game of 1010 in! OK, just one more after that. Maybe one more ...

1010! was created in 2014 by a tiny Turkish game developer, GramGames, which was running out of money. The game was coded and launched in a single month, at a time when GramGames had only $US25,000 left in the bank. It saved the company by becoming a huge viral hit in Asia. Now, the game appears to be working its way Westward around the globe. I first noticed people playing it on the London Undergound, and was actually introduced to it by a friend in Ireland. But none of my colleagues in the US seem to have encountered it yet.

1010!GramGamesSee that single block near the top? That is as valuable as gold. Don’t waste it.

1010! is basically a souped-up version of Tetris. But that doesn’t do the game justice. If Tetris sounds dull, remember that Candy Crush was a souped-up version of Bejeweled, and 2048 was a souped-up version of Threes, and crack is a souped-up version of powdered cocaine. The former is no guide to the addictive power of the latter, in other words.

In 1010!, you must fill a blank grid with different-shaped blocks, presented three at a time. The colours are irrelevant, but blocks must fit together so that you complete a row or a column. Every time you complete a line, the line disappears and you get more space to work in. The more space you create, the more points you get.

It feels even easier than Tetris because you go at your own pace — the blocks aren’t falling from the sky whether you like it or not. But the toned-down pace is part of the addictive twist of 1010!, because if you make a mistake you cannot blame the game. Only yourself.

The game doesn’t even have a point. You just continue playing until you break your previous high score. It goes on forever. Some people report scores of 150,000 or more (a typical game for a newbie goes to 500 or so). 

So, as a matter of public service, I spent the past weekend researching 1010! ….

Here are my tips and tricks for getting a high score. I put this together from my own experience, from advice from friends, and from web sites like these that offer a variety of success strategies.

Starting with the most obvious strategies first, and working towards the more difficult procedures …

1. Focus on creating lines not blocks.

You’ll be tempted to just fill space with blocks, but mere blocks will hurt you — you need to clear lines, not blocks of space.

2. You’re trying to clear rows AND columns.

Another “duh!” moment for new players: This isn’t Tetris — you can go up and down as well as side-to-side to clear lines.

1010!

You’ll need to take care of those L-shapes first.

3. Do rows and columns at the same time.

Think both ways at once, even though it’s easier to get into an all-horizontal or all-vertical strategy.

4. Consider all three options before moving.

When you’ve got lots of space it’s tempting to just dump their pieces into the game to get things moving. Don’t do this. Every block counts.

5. Consider the *order* of all three options before moving.

The game won’t deliver new blocks until you’ve used a set of three. And many a promising game has ended by accident because you forgot to use that awkward L-shape first. 

6. Always remove a line if you can.

Space is key. Don’t leave an unfilled line because you think you can get it later — the game is working against you.

7. Work from the corners.

This will give you both vertical and horizontal options on any given move. 

8. The 2×2 square is your best friend.

You can clear a lot of lines by stacking these next to each other.

9. The little L-shapes fit together to form 2×3 rectangles.

So you can add them to columns and bars formed by 2×2 squares.

10. The big L-shape can be awkward.

Consider that piece first before slotting in the straights and squares.

1010!

This person doesn’t know what they’re doing.

11. Always leave a hole for the big 3×3 squares.

The sudden appearance of a giant 3×3 block is almost always a game-killer. These things are now your most hated nemesis. Remember — you’re creating space, not filling space. So always leave a 9-square hole for them. 

12. Ones, or single squares, are rare.

Use them to complete “impossible” lines.

13. If you can handle the corners first, do so.

Use the L-shapes for corners whenever you can.

14. Avoid leaving single spaces and single unconnected blocks.

Single blocks are rare, and an unconnected single block will require two more pieces on either side before it can make a line. 

15. Good luck!

The game requires skill, but it’s also serving you random blocks, so you will need luck to beat your last score.

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