By Darshan - 9/09/2020
Solitaire along with its other popular variations like Spider and Freecell are one of the few card games with one of its core mechanics right there in the name. In fact, most folks treat solitaire (also known as “patience” in Europe) as the go-to card game when they’re playing solo or alone. You don't need to coordinate with friends to play the game, or worry about hurting anyone’s feelings by winning. You can start playing unencumbered immediately.
Whether you’re playing on a computer or with your own 52-card deck, it can test your ability to strategize and plan ahead (even without an opponent present). Francis Prose explained it best in a New York Times op ed, noting that the thrill of solitaire comes from beating personal best scores while juggling skill, randomness, and luck at the same time. Though the game takes some “patience,” it’s can also be very rewarding when you win.
Computer solitaire was originally introduced in the Microsoft Windows system. Back then, users did not understand how to use a computer system, in particular how to use and click with a mouse. Solitaire was introduced as a simple way to teach users hand eye coordination with the mouse. Clicking and moving cards around was a simple and fun way to orient users with the mouse skills needed to use a computer.
The introduction of solitaire in Windows led to many professionals playing the game at work. Just like coffee breaks, playing solitaire is an easy and quick way to step away from work and recharge. In fact many studies show the importance of taking breaks at work. For example, a micro break of 30 seconds to 5 minutes, can improve mental sharpness by 13% and one small 15 second break every 10 minutes reduces fatigue by over 50%. Solitaire is an ideal outlet to take a quick break.
Solitaire also helps reduce mental stress. Games can be a form of escapism from everyday stress. The rapid gameplay and quick progression is ideal to keep your mind away from any anxieties, and can thereby improve your overall wellbeing. Physiologically, endorphins are released through the excitement of the game, leading to the feelings of pleasure. However, the immediate rewards you can get from winning, and the ability to quickly play again, can also make the game addicting.