Megan Paulson (Candy) Crush-es Her Way into Beta Testing

Relaxing from a stressful day at work and hectic night with her young children, Megan Paulson, Instructor in History, turns to the kaleidoscope of colorful candies found on the Facebook and mobile game sensation, Candy Crush, Paulson recounts. Paulson, currently on level 2428, started playing in 2012 when the game first launched on Facebook. She is now a beta tester for new levels that are released on the mobile platform.

“I like cheesy phone games and this was the ultimate [game]. Smoother play and better graphics than Bejeweled. Plus, it’s something to do that requires little mental energy. When it came out, I was an exhausted, working mother of two kids under the age of [three]. I needed an escape and reading for fun was much too taxing, watching something required noise which might disturb sleeping children, so online/phone games on mute were ideal,” wrote Paulson.

Candy Crush is a puzzle game where players match three or more “candies” of the same color. The matched candies are then eliminated from the board and new colored candies take their place. The game has also introduced special “power-ups” that appear after matching four or more same-colored candies. These unique moves can eliminate greater numbers of pieces at a time. The player must accomplish a specific goal to pass a level, such as eliminating certain pieces under a time limit or reaching a certain score.

Paulson wrote, “I think [three] months is the longest I’ve spent on a level. It’s not stressful when I can’t complete a level because this is my stress reduction. I liken it to doodling or drawing circles over and over and over again. It’s mind numbing.”

Paulson prefers playing the game to watching television and uses the game to fall asleep. After finishing all the levels, Paulson is now able to try new levels while they are being developed. As a beta tester, she completes a survey after every game to send feedback to the company.

“I didn’t volunteer or anything… I eagerly await each new episode and I think it was pretty obvious to the [higher] powers… that I was hardcore. I don’t get paid, there is no expectation for me to play any amount of time and I can pretty much stop at anytime. But, why would I want to?” wrote Paulson.

After finishing the regular Candy Crush levels, Paulson also resorts to playing the spin-off versions of Candy Crush Jelly or Candy Crush Soda Saga.

“I will say it’s disappointing when you get the little Candy Crush men at [the] work sign, and [the sign] says: ‘Stay tuned! More levels are coming soon’… [The spin-off’s] are sub-par if you ask me,” wrote Paulson.

Although Paulson plays the game alone, she competes with one of her friends from college to see who can be the first to finish all the levels. She and her friend attended Stanford University and, according to Paulson, both friends enjoy seeing patterns in the game.

“It’s actually a little embarrassing… if you add up the amount of time I’ve spent playing this game it would probably amount to a solid 2 months. Luckily, it’s got… limited lives, so when I exhaust my 5 lives, I can then engage with the real world,” wrote Paulson.

After many hours dedicated to playing the game, Paulson has one piece of advice for people who want to excel at Candy Crush: “there are much better and more worthy pursuits to which you can devote yourself. I’d recommend those.”