Home > Articles > Web Development > Perl

This chapter is from the book

Exercise: Playing a Little Game

This hour has really been full of Catch-22's: familiar operators behaving differently depending on context, a handful of new operators and functions, and quite a few new rules to remember about syntax. To keep you from developing any hang-ups, I've added this exercise, which puts your knowledge of arrays and lists to good use—a game.

Using your text editor, type the program from Listing 4.1 and save it as Hangman. As always, don't type the line numbers or their following colons ("1:", etc.) Be sure to make the program executable according to the instructions you learned in Hour 1, "Introduction to the Perl Language."

When you're done, try running the program by typing the following at a command line:


or, if your system does not allow making the program executable,

perl -w Hangman

Listing 4.1 Complete Listing of the Hangman Program

1:  #!/usr/bin/perl -w
3:  @words=qw( internet answers printer program );
4:  @guesses=();
5:  $wrong=0;
7:  $choice=$words[rand @words];
8:  $hangman="0-|--<";
10: @letters=split(//, $choice);
11: @hangman=split(//, $hangman);
12: @blankword=(0) x scalar(@letters);
13: OUTER: 
14:   while ($wrong<@hangman) {
15:  	 foreach $i (0..$#letters) {
16:	    if ($blankword[$i]) {
17:	     print $blankword[$i];
18:	    } else {
19:		 print "-";
20:	    }
21:	 }
22:	 print "\n";
23:	 if ($wrong) {
24:	    print @hangman[0..$wrong-1]
25:	 }
26:	 print "\n Your Guess: ";
27:	 $guess=<STDIN>; chomp $guess;
28:	 foreach(@guesses) {
29:	    next OUTER if ($_ eq $guess);
30:	 }
31:	 $guesses[@guesses]=$guess;
32:	 $right=0;
33:	 for ($i=0; $i<@letters; $i++) {
34:	    if ($letters[$i] eq $guess) {
35:		 $blankword[$i]=$guess;
36:		 $right=1;
37:	    }
38:	 }
39:	 $wrong++ if (not $right);
40:	 if (join('', @blankword) eq $choice) {
41:	    print "You got it right!\n";
42:	    exit;
43:	 }
44: }
45: print "$hangman\nSorry, the word was $choice.\n";

Line 1: This line contains the path to the interpreter (you can change it so that it's appropriate to your system) and the -w switch. Always have warnings enabled!

Line 3: The array @words is initialized with the list of possible words that the game can use.

Lines 4–5: Some variables are initialized. @guesses is used to hold a list of all past guesses the player has made. $wrong holds the number of wrong guesses so far.

Line 7: A word is chosen at random from the array @words and assigned to $choice. The rand() function expects a scalar argument, and because @words is being treated as a scalar, it returns the number of elements (in this case, 4). The rand function returns a number between 0 and 3—but not including 0 or 4. As it turns out, when you use a decimal number as an array index, the decimal portion is dropped.

Line 8: The hangman is defined. He's not pretty, but he gets the point across.

Line 10: The mystery word in $choice is split into individual letters in @letters.

Line 11: The hangman scalar is split into pieces in @hangman. The head is $hangman[0], the neck is $hangman[1], and so on.

Line 12: The array @blankword is used to mark which letters the player has guessed successfully. (0) x scalar(@letters) creates a list that is as long as the number of elements in @letters, which is stored in @blankword. As letters are guessed, these 0s are changed to letters in line 35—this will mark the positions of the correctly guessed letters.

Lines 13–14: The loop containing most of the program is set up. It has a label—OUTER—so that inside the loop you can have some fine-grained control over it. It continues looping until the number of wrong guesses is the same as the length of the hangman.

Lines 15–21: This foreach loop iterates over the array @blankword for each letter in the puzzle. If @blankword doesn't contain a letter in that particular element, a dash is printed; otherwise, the letter is printed.

Lines 23–25: $wrong contains the number of wrong guesses. If that number is at least one, line 24 uses a slice to print the hangman array from position 0 up to the number of wrong guesses (less 1).

Lines 26–27: These lines get the guess from the player. chomp() removes the trailing newline.

Lines 28–30: These lines search @guesses to see whether the player has already guessed that letter. If he or she has, you restart the loop at line 13. The player isn't penalized for duplicate wrong guesses.

Line 31: The letter guessed by the player is recorded in @guesses. Using @guesses in a scalar context causes the number of elements to be substituted in the brackets [], so each time this statement is run, the index one beyond the last index is set to $guess.

Lines 32–38: The meat of the program! The array @letters, which contains the puzzle, is searched. If the guess is found in the puzzle, the corresponding element of @blankword is set to the letter. The array @blankword contains either a correctly guessed letter or undef at any particular element. A flag called $right is set to 1 to indicate that at least one letter was successfully found.

Line 39: $wrong is incremented, unless the player correctly guessed a letter.

Lines 40–43: The elements of the array @blankword are joined together to form a string and compared to the original puzzle. If they match, the player has guessed all the letters.

Line 45: The player was unable to guess the puzzle, and the interpreter has dropped out of the loop started at line 13. This line prints a conciliatory message and exits the game.

This game exercises most of the concepts from this hour—literal lists, arrays, split, join, context, and foreach loops. You can implement this small game of Hangman in an almost unlimited number of ways, but I hope that you've caught on to some of the possibilities that arrays provide.

Listing 4.2 shows a sample of the Hangman program's output.

Listing 4.2 Sample Output from Hangman


Your Guess: t

Your Guess: s
Your Guess: e
Your Guess:

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020