According to the BBC's Tom Stafford, games like Tetris are successful because they take advantage of a deep-seated psychological drive to tidy up.
Tetris holds our attention by continually creating unfinished tasks. Each action in the game allows us to solve part of the puzzle, filling up a row or rows completely so that they disappear, but is also just as likely to create new, unfinished work. A chain of these partial-solutions and newly triggered unsolved tasks can easily stretch to hours, each moment full of the same kind of satisfaction as scratching an itch.
The other reason why Tetris works so well is that each unfinished task only appears at the same time as its potential solution -- those blocks continuously fall from the sky, each one a problem and a potential solution. Tetris is a simple visual world, and solutions can immediately be tried out using the five control keys (move left, move right, rotate left, rotate right and drop -- of course). Studies of Tetris players show that people prefer to rotate the blocks to see if they'll fit, rather than think about if they'll fit. Either method would work, of course, but Tetris creates a world where action is quicker than thought -- and this is part of the key to why it is so absorbing. Unlike so much of life, Tetris makes an immediate connection between our insight into how we might solve a problem and the means to begin acting on it.
The Zeigarnik Effect describes a phenomenon, but it doesn't really give any reason for why it happens. This is a common trick of psychologists, to pretend they solved a riddle of the human mind by giving it a name, when all they've done is invented an agreed upon name for the mystery rather than solved it. A plausible explanation for the existence of the Effect is that the mind is designed to reorganise around the pursuit of goals. If those goals are met, then the mind turns to something else.
|"A dreadful start."|
|A playable game of Tabletop Pong|
|Follow a Deer on GTA V|
|Message in a Binary Bottle: Messages Hidden in Old Computer Games|
|Kids Can't Handle Old-School RPGs Anymore|
|Reviewing Counterfeit Toys Made in China|
|The Spaceship Propulsion Compendium|
|Soviet Air Force’s First All-Female Bombing Squad|
|"This very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age."|
|“There was not only automation but where the suggestion that humans had any control [...] was absent too.”|
|"Most of what kids currently learn at school will probably be irrelevant by the time they are 40."|
|Unboxing a Factory Sealed IBM Compatible PC from 1988|
|"Fossil fuel executives want to get a piece of the clean-energy business."|
|“The release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic.”|
|Nerf John Wick|
|James Charles' Pop Culture Dollars|
|Pat the Zombie: A Cruel Adult Spoof of 'Pat the Bunny'|