Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hangman for dummies.

I had an uncomplicated little app that plays Hangman. You're familiar with the game---you get a blank word and have to guess it letter by letter, but when you guess a letter that's not in the word, you get a line added to the little stick figure. If you miss enough guesses, the stick figure is completed and your man is hanged.

It commonly starts with this:

Usually the gallows is a given. Then you generally have six misses before the man's a corpse:

My app gives you one more wrong guess, after which the face is added to the doomed man and he shuffles off this mortal coil:

Now, if you're playing with a young jackanapes who is not too swift, you can add the lines of the gallows to give him 4 more shots at it. But that's 11 wrong guesses. Really, any word longer than 4 letters should be cake with that many shots at it. (A common error young players make is thinking that long words are harder, when they actually afford many more guesses. Silly children.)

But if you are using to game to teach spelling, you may wish to let the little chap have many guesses to keep him going before he is dead. Indeed, at his age, his own personal timeline may be much longer than yours at your age, so there is a philosophical basis for such handicapping. This design, by my calculation (counting gallows and individual lines) yields as many as 27 wrong guesses, which more than covers the whole damn alphabet:

The fact that he looks a little like a clown just adds to the enjoyment of the game.

Of course, if you're dealing with someone completely stupid---someone who will guess numbers, punctuation, blanks, typos, names, objects, special characters---someone so willfully and completely ignorant, so belligerentso blatantly stupid as to be a New York State politician, perhaps---you may have to cut him even more slack if you want him to win:

Although really, at this point I think it's time to pack it in. Anyway, shouldn't he be legislating or something?

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