Binary Games and Self Control

2048It took me almost two weeks. It was a simple game. 2048. I had just been writing a short passage for my students about binary numbers, and how important they were to programming. Did you know that a kilobyte is really 1,028 bytes, and not 1,000 bytes? Or at least you can debate that. But I digress.

This game works with powers of 2 (2n), and when you slide them across the grid, they combine if they are of equal value. It took me a half dozen times to figure out the two simple rules that lead to a win.

This game is truly addictive. Some malefactor, a friend, sent me the link. I was in the middle of writing, so I told myself, “You play until you lose. Then wait until the next day.” Kind of binary in itself.

Because of the addictive nature of this game, I am more proud about holding to that schedule than I am of solving the puzzle. It permitted my getting other work done, and still allowed me to look forward to a nice thing to end the day on, even though it was failure after failure. Normally, I would have hammered at it hour after hour until it was solved.

Being able to spread out addictive activities is a real skill. I think they call it self-discipline. I used to think that throwing yourself fully into some activity was a kind of discipline, but sometimes you need the other kind.

The nature of games is wonderful. Fitting them into your life is even a bigger game. Now the question I am asking myself, which tack do I take with the wireless connection to the new printer? Slow or fast? I hate printers. Six hours today on this one. Still not solved. Love games.

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