“Where is my damn phone?” I yell.
One of these days I’m gonna have to get rid of this bad habit. I’m pretty sure I left it under the tree like three minutes ago … right next to where Ninja Monkey is sitting … OH FOR 70,85,67,75,83 SAKE!!!!!!!!
“This is weird”, says Ninja Monkey.
“Ninja Monkey,” I say sternly. “We need to talk.”
Ninja Monkey shows me my phone. Somehow he has reached level 742 in Jewels Magic. Given his fascination with random move algorithms I’m pleasantly surprised to find he hasn’t made any in-app purchases yet.
“This game is rigged,” says Ninja Monkey.
I suddenly remember that Monkey and I published a paper about a certain Spider Solitaire game being rigged some time ago. Maybe the Ninja Monkey is onto something after all.
“Why is level 742 of Jewels Magic rigged?” I ask.
“I realised random move algorithms ain’t always what they’re cracked up to be,” says Ninja Monkey. “I’m not very good with these abstract strategy games – so I asked my friend Wise Snail for insights.”
“As you know,” says Wise Snail, “being the World’s slowest Spider Solitaire player I like to analyse the current game state to the Nth degree before making a move.”
Why couldn’t Ninja Monkey at least ask one of my better students for advice?
“<sarcasm> What fascinating insight did you come up with this time? </sarcasm>” I ask.
“I soon realised if I wait for three seconds then the game will highlight 3 or more jewels of the same color,” replies the Wise Snail.
“So your new strategy is just wait for three seconds and then play whatever move the app suggests?”
“I know I’m not the best player, but my strategy has one important advantage: If you’re trying to prove a game is rigged then nobody can accuse you of deliberately playing sub-optimal moves to promote your desired hypothesis, null or otherwise.”
“True,” I respond. “Very true.”
“We start with 26 moves,” says Ninja Monkey. “The goal says we need to collect 50 red, 50 blue and 50 orange jewels. If I use the suggested-move algorithm instead of random-move-algorithm then I always collect plenty of red and orange jewels but very few blue jewels.”
“That is weird,” I reply. “There is no logical reason why one colour should be favoured over another. That’s like you-know … racism or something like that.”
“I ran the following test,” says the Wise Snail. “I played 10 games on level 742, stopping whenever one of the jewel counts reaches zero or I run out of moves. I got the following results:”
“So that means the blue number is always largest, and by a country mile,” I say.
“Of course that doesn’t tell us why it behaves that way.”
“But that’s all I need to know,” I reply. “Q.E.D. The game is rigged. Maybe I should write an angry-gram to the developer of this game.”
“I agree,” says the Snail. Unfortunately he takes a minute just to type the word “Dear” on my phone.
“Let me have a go,” says Monkey. He can literally type at one million words per minute but unfortunately he can only produce gibberish of the highest quality.
Fine. I have to type the angry-gram myself. It takes three minutes, and I finally press Send. Whoosh!
Hmmm … perhaps it’s time for another collaboration with Ninja Monkey and the Wise Snail. For now, they’re back in the good books again. But if I catch them playing with my phone once more without my permission then I might reconsider …