The next Candy Crush?
The next Candy Crush?
We all remember it. The game that in 2014 had reportedly 93 million users – and the game that was being played by every person you ever sat next to on the bus or tube. It was a simple game – you just had to make a row or column of at least 3 coloured candies, and you did it by swapping two adjacent candies on the board. There were add ons and other options to upgrade etc but for the most part, it was a fun, free game that got the nation hooked.
It seemed every child (and adult) was playing this game! We were doing some research about using technology in schools at the same time and the findings all pointed to the same thing – games you can play on either your phone or laptop are a big thing.
So we looked harder and investigated it even more … and the end result I’m delighted to tell you is that WE HAVE A GAME TOO!! Our own game that you can play on your phone and on your computer, on the bus and on the tube. What’s not to love!? Play it here now (http://www.learnaboutor.co.uk/BinPacking/ORPack1.html)
The best thing though – it’s educational.
But wait, a game that's fun and educational? How?!
There are many times when you want to pack things in a limited space. Clothes in a suitcase or food in a cupboard or refrigerator.
Generally, we want to pack as much as we can as quick as we can, right? We’re in a hurry or we want to get somewhere and so we shove everything into the boot and ta-dah the car is packed! But, what are the consequences of not being able to pack well?
It’s August and lots of people are heading on holidays abroad to lie on the beach or by a pool. If they’re anything like my friend, they'll shove everything they could possible every want into what appears to be a huge suitcase (but they will tell you otherwise!), sit on it and then hopeless try to shut the bulging case and do the zip up!
Now when you fly on an aeroplane, it's the same idea. The bags are packed into bins that are loaded into hold of the aeroplane .... except this time you probably don’t want this just shoved in anyhow. In the new game we’ve created, players are immersed into the role of a baggage handler. The idea is to pack the bags in the space in the quickest and most efficient way. Sounds easy right?
That’s just level 1. Level 2 will take longer to fill the bin as the number of bags to pack increases and from level 7 onwards, the bags will fill more than one bin, so you have to be even more careful. By level 12, you’ve got lots of different types of bags and they’re arriving even quicker so you’ll need to think fast!
As the number of bags, and the number of bag types increases it becomes harder to ensure you’ve got the best combination to fill the bins. If there were enough bags to fill 10 bins, and more bag types, it would be quite hard to make sure you’ve done the best job. (More about what is the ‘best job’ later.)
**(Warning: technical bit here)**
To help solve this problem, an algorithm can be used. This is a rule, or set of rules that tells us how to pack the bags. (When you played the first game of level 1 and packed the bags in the order in which they arrived you were, in fact, using an algorithm). It used the simple rule:
• Pack the next available bag in the first space into which it fits.
However, this is called the ‘first fit’ algorithm and it does not always work well. A better, but quite simple algorithm is called the ‘first fit, decreasing’ algorithm. This is similar to the ‘first fit’ algorithm except that the bags are used in order of size, from largest to smallest.
Enough of the technical bit now. Hopefully you've got the idea behind the game and you're already wanting to have a go. If you do indeed want more detailed info, e-mail us and we’ll send you the longer accompanying resources .... otherwise – have a go and let us know how you get on.
Play the game – on the bus, or on the tube, and let us know what you think! I’ve made it to level3. Any advances on that?!
Interested? Bored? Hopefully not the latter ….
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