Fruit Ninja and flavors of focus

Slice that bananna!
Recently, my wife and I have been obsessed with the game Fruit Ninja.  And, having been simultaneously obsessed with the idea of focus and obtaining metacognitive control over my intensity of focus, I couldn't help but start to analyze Fruit Ninja as a tool for fine-tuning my already ninja-like ability to focus.  Let me explain. (Also, I'm not getting paid to write this, I just like Fruit Ninja).

For those of you who don't know, Fruit Ninja is a game that originally became popular on the iphone and has since expanded to the Android platform, the iPad and (I think) to an online game.

The game is simple, grasshopper.  But not easy.  The goal is to slice up fruit by swiping your finger across the screen of your touchscreen device.  That's the easy part.  The hard part is that, in addition to fruit, there are bombs that fly into the scene and occlude your target fruit.  Hitting the bombs earns a point penalty in some versions of the game, and in other versions of the game can lead to instant failure. Check out some video footage.

What does this silly game have to do with flavors of focus?  Well, cynical adult, the game offers three "modes" of play: classic, arcade, and zen.  Ooooh, zen!

Just one more game, please?
Each mode places different cognitive demands on the player.  In classic, the number of fruit slowly increases over time and if you miss three fruit in total, your game ends.  In addition, hitting a bomb results in instant failure.  For these reasons, classic mode require intense focus and precision.

In arcade mode, there are no penalties for missing fruit and only a minor penalty for hitting a bomb.  Instead, success depends on the creativity you can muster to slice fruit in various combinations.  Thus, this mode requires less focus and more flexibility.

Finally, in zen mode, there are no bombs, no lives and no consequences.  No need to focus at all. This is the day-dreamers dream-mode in Fruit Ninja.  Zone out and slice and dice.

In this way, Fruit Ninja represents a three-tiered focus training-program.  By moving between the different modes, my brain must adjust it's level of focus and, by playing, I've learned a lot about how my brain operates.  I am much better at arcade mode than classic mode mostly because I may have some tiny issues with prolonged focus.  On the other hand, my wife is very good at classic mode because of her insufferable stoicism under prolonged duress.  In other words, she's tougher than I am.

I'm sure other video games offer similar benefits of focus, but I would be especially interested to learn more about some other games that particularly require prolonged focus.  One of my favorite games that did just that is Tetris.  Perhaps, all those hours with my GameBoy weren't totally wasted.  In fact, I'm of the opinion that many video games can act as great training tools for various cognitive capacities, a concept that has already received considerable attention.

Personally, I don't have the time any more to be a heavy "Gamer" but an occasional game of Fruit Ninja is not only fun, but may lead to a Happier Homunculus...  At least that's what I keep telling myself.

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