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2048: A math game goes viral

By Brent Leith
On March 26, 2014

A little math game created on a whim is taking the Internet by storm. Simple mechanics and addictive gameplay pushed puzzler 2048 to viral status. The original browser version can be found here.

According to an article from CNET, the open-source game became accessible on Github March 9th and quickly caught on. The game's programmer, 19-year-old Italian Gabriele Cirulli, tweeted just three days after uploading the game:

28000 people playing #2048game right now. The amount of man-hours spent playing this game will never be returned to humanity.

As a popular open-source game, 2048 was ripe for imitation. Variants and knock-offs are available across the web and for download on mobile platforms.

The game exploded on the Reddit WebGames forum on Thursday, with several variations on its simple format posted. Once you master the original, try 2584, the variant which tasks you with combining numbers in the Fibonacci sequence. Several themed versions also exist, like the comical Doge version. One modified version includes an AI solver.

Its popularity is well-earned. Simple design makes great puzzle games. The kind that become legends of gaming, like Tetris, combine easy to grasp, but exceedingly difficult to master mechanics. 2048 is primed to join those ranks. What does Cirulli think of its success?

I am your productivity's worst nightmare.

Just realized I am also my own productivity's worst nightmare.

It looks like he can't stop playing either.

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