Dots

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I’m addicted to Dots. It’s betaworks‘ new game. 389. That’s my high score. No power-ups. I’m pretty proud of it. The game consumes my time. I no longer browse reddit during my “private times”; I play Dots.

Dots is simple. It’s elegant. The game has restored my faith in mobile game development. But more importantly, it’s fucking addictive. I can’t put it down.

Dots a simple game: just connect adjoining dots of the same color to clear them from the board. You have 60 seconds. Clearing dots by making squares is the way to high scores. Use your dots to buy power-ups. That’s it. That’s Dots.

Like Angry Birds and Temple Run before it, Dots demonstrates that a simple game with replay value is the key to a successful mobile game. I always want to play just *one* more game. And since the game only lasts 60 seconds, I’m assured that I won’t waste that much time. I might not best my high score, but I’ll give it another go.

Dots is simple. That’s important. The first time the game loads, the user has to connect two dots to advance to the next screen. Instructions are not presented. Just two dots. After poking the two dots, users will naturally drag a line between them. And from there, they’re hooked.

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When the app launched Jordan called Dots the most beautiful mobile game she’d ever seen. I won’t argue with that statement. The game is lovely. The betaworks title is also very popular and downloaded over 1 million times within its first week.

Dots is the epitome of a good game. The barrier to entry is set very low, but yet the replay value is very high. This is the golden formula that few games have achieved.

Pacman and Tetris are classic examples. Both were massive hits because it didn’t take any skill to get hooked. Just gobble up the dots or line up the blocks. It’s that easy with Dots. My 3 year daughter gets a kick out of connecting just a couple of dots. My 6-year-old got 114 his first time.

Even Bejeweled, the hit game turned bloatware, is a great example. How many of us wasted weeks of our lives playing that game on a PDA or a feature phone?

More recently Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds proved that smartphones can be a legitimate platform for casual games. Even now, years after their release, they’re still widely popular titles. Why? Because like Dots they’re easy to play and crazy addictive.

Sadly my love of Dots won’t last. There will come a day where I’ll move it from my home screen to a folder where it will live out its time on my device next to Words With Friends, Letterpress, Angry Birds Star Wars, and Temple Run OZ. That’s just how these things work.

Eventually I’ll grow tired of connecting dots and listening to the game’s satisfying pings. And then, probably a year from now as I mindlessly clear up space on my iPhone, I’ll delete Dots, not even pausing for a second to reminisce about our time together. But right now, I’m living in the moment, hiding in the bathroom, ignoring the needs of my children and the yells from my wife while I try to best my high score. Just one more round.

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