It might come to some surprise that the latest craze to captivate the greater population is actually educational. 2048, a game designed by Italian web developer Gabriele Cirulli, has topped app download charts in a way not unlike Flappy Bird some months ago. However, while Flappy Bird’s reputation might be likened to a mindless obsession, 2048 requires a degree of strategy in order to successfully finish the game. While each game has their own unique iconic design, they both contain the same level of otherworldly difficulty that determined masochistic gamers have come to love.
2048 is simple, fast-paced, and incredibly addictive. For those who haven’t seen the game, imagine a 4×4 grid. In the middle of this grid, or to the side, is a block with a 2 on it. You can flick your finger any which way, and the 2 will move in that direction. Every time you move, however, will cause another block to appear: it might have a 2 on it, or even a 4. Your goal is to cause these numbers to bash into one another; their collision results in the miraculous additive fusion only a mathematician might adore. Once you reach the much coveted 2048 block, you can kick out the Klondike bars because you just won the game.
Most might approach 2048 with a mindset not unlike Flappy Bird; it’s easy to aimlessly swipe, finding amusement as the colored blocks move according to your indifferent will. Winning, however, requires a level of focus that diehard Flappy Bird players might recognize. It’s easy for blocks to quickly fill up your grid, inevitably resulting in a loss. According to Kaylah Barton, a senior Math education at Plymouth State, “The game offers a wonderful experience for students, because it’s a puzzle that challenges them. Even if they are in an Advanced Algebra course or just learning the basics, they’ll both be working and learning along the way toward winning.”
2048 is not an original game, and is based on 1024 and Threes; if you thought that 2048 was hard with using multiples of 2, Threes has you aspire toward the same goal, but in multiples of 3. Cirulli programmed the game during one weekend, explaining “It was a way to pass the time”. The 19 year old did not expect the 4 million downloads the game received in less than a week, and was equally surprised by the Doctor Who and Star Wars inspired spin offs that ensued soon after. Such spinoffs, according to Cirulli, were “part of the beauty of open source software.” Open source software, a movement championed by industry big wigs like Google, allows anyone to learn from Cirulli’s work and modify it as they see fit.
2048 is a game you can play as you fall asleep at night, are waiting for a lecture to begin, or while falling from a plane (seriously – you might break a record for completing the game before landing on the ground). Nonetheless, give it a shot: your Flappy Bird afflicted mind will thank you later.