Many times I have walked through the halls at work and seen that spread of electronic cards on a colleague’s monitor that is the telltale sign they’re playing Solitaire and I know I am not the only one who has fallen victim to telling myself, just one more game and then I’ll get back to work. The game has been around for over 240 years (according to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solitaire) is also called Patience and has many versions with their own rules. This game has successfully made the leap from a physical deck of cards to the electronic versions. The most popular currently are Klondike and Free Cell which come standard with Microsoft Windows, however many other forms can be downloaded free from the internet.
In considering motivation for this blog post, I couldn’t help but think, what makes electronic Solitaire so addictive? For the most part it lacks competition, since by the very nature of the name, one only competes with themselves. Of course, the software will keep score which is weighted by time and the number of moves it took to complete the game and compare it to previous scores. The greatest motivation is the challenge, an intrinsic motivation written about by Malone and Lepper in Making Learning Fun: A Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivations for Learning. Successful completion of the game requires not only skill, but also luck, hence there will never be complete mastery. There is always a chance the cards are dealt in a manner impossible to win with. Lastly, the availability of the game continues its success – even the least computer savvy person knows Solitaire is located somewhere on every computer and that familiar deck of cards can be very comforting.