2048, Gamemaking, and Creativity

If you’ve been hanging out on social media lately someone has probably linked you to an addictive time-wasting number game, 2048. But did you know you can create your own customized version? The free “Make Your Own 2048” tool is delightful to work with, and it’s really easy to make simple changes to the text or create an entire makeover through replacing the number boxes with images.

The story of 2048 is a great starting point for discussing originality in a world of convenient digital clones. The 2048 Editions are all versions of Gabriele Cirulli’s 2048, which itself was “based” on both Jason Saxon’s 1024 and Sirvo’s Threes. The creators of Threes wrote a beautiful article on the popularity of many clones and the design process behind the simple elegance of their original game. (You can see the controversy of inspiration play out in the many articles on the games.) Presenting this game and its associated version-making tool to students can be a great way to start conversations on what constitutes originality and creativity in an age of instant remakes and memes.

There’s also lots of potential in using the tool to make quick rhetorical claims through strongly hierarchical interactions: the goal is always to move up, and “up” is wherever you define it as the one filling the boxes. My version, 2048: Academia Edition, uses the progressive elimination of would-be professors from the academic track as it’s model: the blocks are now representative of the academic hierarchy, from student to PhD to adjunct to professor emeritus. In each case of collisions, two enter and one leaves, a simple representation through interaction that is intended to be uncomfortably close to reality. There are tons of popular culture editions out, of course, including the meta edition by @czetter shown above. Here are a few of the versions of 2048 other academics have shared so far:

Have you tried the “Make Your Own 2048″ tool? If so, what are your thoughts? Share your versions in the comments!

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