Victory!

Behold! An evening well spent.

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The trick: don’t press down. Or left, or right, or up. Choose one direction and don’t use it. It’s obviously symmetrical so it doesn’t matter which you choose, but as long as you keep collapsing tiles towards one edge of the board, you give yourself a reasonable chance. There’s a bit more to it than that, but that’s the main thing.

This also provides an opportunity to point out the dubious slight of hand in a lot of science journalism. Or “science” journalism. Or “science journalism”. Whichever you prefer. A lot of articles get published with headlines like the following: “Why the 2048 Game Is So Addictive“. The article “explains” that dopamine “boosts pleasure and perseverance while reducing stress.” OK. And completing achievable challenges releases dopamine. Hooray! But wait. If you can’t explain why completing achievable challenges releases dopamine, you haven’t really explained anything. You’ve just introduced an intermediate step. Going from

achievable challenge → pleasure → addiction

to

achievable challenge → dopamine → pleasure → addiction

doesn’t in any meaningful sense answer the question “why?”. It only seems like science because you’ve invoked a chemical.

But if you’d like to release some dopamine of your own, the game can be found here. And hey, it’s much less stupid than Flappy Bird.

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