I completely skipped the Farmville phase.

I have never played Angry Birds or Flappy Bird or any other feathered friend-focused game.

I have never crushed any candy or created words with my friends.

There was a brief affair with DragonVale, but that has long since been deleted from my phone.

This new game though – it’s got me hooked. Day and night I see colored tiles sliding back and forth – and that’s whether or not I have the game opened.

2048 was released sometime in March, created in a mere two days by an Italian Web developer. According to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge), “(Gabriele Cirulli) was surprised when his game received over 4 million visitors in less than a week.”

So here’s the set-up:

You have a 4×4 grid with two numbered tiles on it when you start. Swiping a touch screen, you can slide matching tiles into each other. Beginning with two’s or four’s, you “slide them into each other” to create larger and larger value tiles. So, two’s slid together create fours, four create eights, eights create sixteens, and so on – with the eventual goal being to combine two 1024 tiles to create a 2048 tile.

I downloaded the free app on a Sunday afternoon on my Samsung tablet, just to have something mindless to do.

Well, it certainly is that.

When I killed my tablet battery, I downloaded it to my smartphone. I have played this silly little game for who knows how many hours since.

It took a couple weeks, but I finally figured out a strategy and attained that elusive 2048 tile.


But did it stop there?

Oh no.

You see, after you reach 2048, the game gives you the option to keep going.

And I do love a challenge.

In the process of playing, reaching a point at which you can no longer combine tiles will end the game, and you have to start over at … square one.

It’s probably a good thing the app doesn’t keep track of how many games I have played. My 60,000-plus point high score is incriminating enough.

Friday I managed my first 4096 tile. I’ll admit I was a little giddy.

It’s silly that I have wasted so much time on this meaningless puzzle – although in my defense, I truly haven’t let it completely disrupt my life or anything. What I have been trying to figure out is why I enjoy it so much.

It’s not the math – believe you me.

I think what makes the game so attractive to me is that ultimate feeling that you have accomplished something – even though you really haven’t.

Finding a way to strategize and combine those little colored tiles represents something akin to order and organization, as well as achievement. The goal is clear, and at first seems easy to attain. Through a time of trial and error, you finally figure out how to make it work. You begin to stack tiles neatly and watch as the organization scheme pays off and tiles collide and combine into greater and greater values.

It’s kind of like life, don’t you think?

Sometimes in life, usually on the precipice of a new chapter, a new phase, we jump into a new challenge.

And at first we don’t have a clue.

We’re just sliding tiles around all willy-nilly, trying to figure out what’s going on. Trying to determine a pattern out of the chaos.

We know the rules – basically. But figuring out how to make them work in our favor is something else entirely.

Through a period of trial and error – and maybe a little advice from someone who’s been playing longer or is better at the game than we are – we finally figure out how to make it work.

We figure out how to organize and triumph in this new challenge of life – whatever it may be: college, marriage, a career, a baby. All the pieces begin to fit together and stack up to create something of greater value – something of order. Organization. Achievement.

It’s not easy, to begin with, but once you figure out a few tricks, it’s hard to stop. And even once you hit that goal, you want to keep going. You want to feel that sense of achievement again and again.

I think 2048 is a microcosm of that whole scenario.

(Microcosm was my college literature professor’s favorite word. It means “a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger.”)

Or that could be much too philosophical.

Now. About that 8192
tile …

Alison James, associate editor for the “Opelika Observer,” has loved to read and write since she was 5 years old. She loves meeting new people and telling their stories.