Which Data Structure Is Used for 2048 Game?


Scott Campbell

Which Data Structure Is Used for 2048 Game?

The popular game 2048 is a puzzle game that has gained immense popularity in recent years. It involves sliding numbered tiles on a grid to combine them and create a tile with the number 2048.

While the gameplay and mechanics of the game are fascinating, have you ever wondered about the data structure that powers this addictive game? Let’s delve into it.

Grid Representation

The fundamental data structure used in the 2048 game is a two-dimensional grid. The grid represents the game board and holds the tiles with their respective values. Typically, a 4×4 grid is used for playing the game, although variations with different grid sizes exist.

Each cell of the grid can hold a tile, and each tile has a numeric value. The values of the tiles in this game are powers of 2 – starting from 2, then 4, 8, and so on. The initial state of the game consists of two randomly placed tiles with values either 2 or 4.

Array-Based Implementation

One common way to represent this two-dimensional grid is by using a one-dimensional array. The array size would be equal to the number of cells in the grid, which is typically determined by multiplying the number of rows by the number of columns.

In JavaScript, for example, we can create an array to represent a standard 4×4 grid:

let tiles = [0, 0, 0, 0,
             0, 0, 0, 0,
             0, 0, 0, 0,
             0, 0, 0 ,0];

Here, each index of the array corresponds to a cell in the grid. The value at that index represents the value of the tile in that cell. A value of 0 typically represents an empty cell, and other values represent the power of 2 associated with a tile.

Linked List-Based Implementation

Another approach is to use a linked list-based implementation for the grid. In this approach, each cell is represented by a node in the linked list. Each node holds the coordinate information (row and column) and the value of the tile.

This implementation allows for dynamic resizing of the grid by adding or removing nodes as needed. It also provides flexibility in terms of traversing and manipulating individual cells.


In conclusion, the 2048 game relies on a suitable data structure to represent its two-dimensional grid. Whether it’s an array-based or linked list-based implementation, both approaches have their advantages and trade-offs.

The choice of data structure depends on various factors such as programming language, performance requirements, ease of implementation, and flexibility. Understanding these underlying data structures can help you appreciate the complexity behind this seemingly simple yet addictive puzzle game.

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