“But why is something so simple, so addictive? Why have I wasted hours of my life watching a ball bouncing around? These are two questions I will never be able to answer.” – Console Monster’s Review of Peggle for Xbox Live Arcade

“It’s a simple concept that plays on our ability to perceive a sense of control where there is none. Sure, you can aim your initial shot, but after about the first or second bounce, you are at the mercy of the game’s physics. This magic formula, the fine mix of perceived control and chaos is why we have a very profitable Las Vegas. You’ll obtain various power-ups to help put a little more control back in your hands, but at the end of the day, it’s all about how a little ball is going to bounce off a little peg.” – Giant Bomb’s Review of Peggle for Xbox Live Arcade

It wasn’t too long ago when I was a child in the ways of Peggle. I began the Peggle Adventure with little sense of exactly what I was getting into. It seemed simple and easy. All I had to do was shoot the ball at some red pegs and watch as my brilliant choices were rewarded. Unicorns, rainbows, and an Ode to Joy all reinforced the apparently brilliant decisions I had made and showcased the amazing talents I had displayed. I had no worries of anything bad ever happening to me. Every step of the way, there was constant reinforcement. “Peggle,” I thought,  “you are the best parent ever.”

As I grew more mature, I began to notice that things did not always go my way. One time I came dangerously close to failing to complete a level. Do you realize what that might mean? It means I might have to try it again! That’s no fun! That’s mundane, repetitive, boring! It’s frustrating! Why would I want to do a thing like that? And another thing that really got me upset was that I had very little control over the outcome of the whole thing. All I could do was make educated choices, trusting in what I had been told by the in-game guide: that more often than not, it works out okay to do the right thing.

But before I knew it, Peggle became less of an adventure and more a series of challenges that seemed specially crafted to at best test my skill and character and at worse make me want to give up on it all. Time after time I would fail, sometimes because of my own stupid choices, and other times because of what seemed like fate playing a cruel practical joke on me. Just when it seemed like finally, everything was going to turn out right, something would happen that would make me want to give up on it all.

Now that I am old and frail in the land of Peggle, I realize that this is very much a cruel and random game. The only thing other than luck and fate that decided this game was being the right person in the right place. Some locations favored unicorns, while others favored crabs. Some favored rabbits and flowers, but none of these locations were equal opportunity. To be successful you had to “be someone.” To be someone you had to work your way up the ladder.

I reflect on those days with a sense of nostalgia. I remember my first success. I can still hear the Ode to Joy blaring as rainbows filled the sky. I remember being happy with the way things were going. And I remember thinking it was all up to me.

Now I know that there’s little I can do after the first or second bounce. If I make a bad first shot, I’ll take the blame. But after that, all I can do is trust that the ball will bounce in all of the right places. Hard work pays off, but sometimes it doesn’t. Deep thought pays off, but sometimes it doesn’t. When those successes do come, I need those out-of-proportion celebrations. I don’t think I could go on without the Ode to Joy, the rainbows, and the fireworks.

And I don’t think I could go on if I didn’t think that the Designer had my best interest in mind when He made this thing. That would just be meaningless.

“There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.” -Ecclesiastes 8:14


  1. So I finally noticed that I had a Peggle Deluxe demo already loaded onto my computer (via Steam). I gave it a try, finished the 20 levels available, and dropped it like someone else’s bad habit. If I were to wrest any parabolic meaning from my experience it would be simply this: I should be fine in Vegas because this kind of thing cannot draw me in.

    I did like the rainbow and “Ode to Joy” though.

    The Danes last blog post..20090417.teaParty

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