Thursday, March 7, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Guilty Pleasures -- Puzzles and Games

From Woman's Day

I have a confession to make -- I am hopelessly addicted to puzzles and games of all sorts!  From Tic-tac-toe and Hangman to Trivial Pursuit and Charades, I love them all.  As a freshman in college I first encountered the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, and a lifelong passion began.  Later I tried my hand at the acrostic puzzles, and I became even more fond of these.  Of course I have plenty of favorite games on the Internet now, and I thought I would share a few of them today.

1) Crossword and Acrostic Puzzles

Acrostic puzzle (from Deep Fun)

While I still prefer to do crossword and acrostic puzzles on paper (and in ink, no less!), they are also available online.  For the latest versions from the Sunday New York Times, you can subscribe online, but the daily puzzles are free here.

2) Soduko

From The Week

I have never been particularly good at math, so I use improving my math skills as an excuse for doing Sudoku puzzles, which involve filling in a series of numbers in a specific array on a 9x9-square grid.  I go to the Access Atlanta site for their daily Sudoku, which has different levels of difficulty on different days (I have to admit that I sort of cheat by turning on the optional hints).

3) Jigsaw Puzzles

From Wikimedia Commons

Just before we moved away from Colorado, we had a serious blizzard and ended up with over three feet of snow.  Fortunately I had a nice, challenging jigsaw puzzle that I hadn't yet opened.  I spent the next several days while snowed in working on that puzzle, and actually enjoyed myself despite the weather!  These days, with two overly rambunctious dogs in the house it is not so easy to leave a jigsaw puzzle out on an open surface without losing a few pieces, so I like to solve the ones online instead, like those at Jig Zone.

3) Solitaire

From BVS Solitaire Collection

Generally I prefer games that only require one player rather than group games -- that way I can set my own schedule, and leave the game at any time if need be.  Solitaire is, of course, the ultimate one-person game, and is perfect for those times when I have a little time to kill -- while doing laundry or waiting for something to finish cooking, for example.  I like to play the version at World of Solitaire.

5) Hidden Object and Room Escape Games

Gamershood "Autumn Romance" Escape Game (image from Nordinho)

I am not a fan of most video games.  I find them to be far too aggressive, and I am not interested in the competitive component.  Not long ago, however, I discovered a whole new world of free online games that contain no violence and are cooperative rather than competitive.  My initial favorite genre was Hidden Object Games, but I have since progressed to Room Escape Games and these are the ones I tend to play now.  Here is a list of a few of my favorite sites which reliably update their escape games at least once a week:

Many of the games have links to walkthroughs which show the solution, but if not you can always do a search for the game name plus the word walkthrough.  The walkthroughs are usually either YouTube videos or a comments section (although sometimes a written version is available).  If you want to see how to play a game, watch the video walkthrough:

I prefer to read the comments instead, as I am usually looking for specific hints for solutions to clues I cannot find or solve.  This is where the cooperative aspect comes in, as the comments are all supplied by fellow game players.  A good source for games from many sites (including the ones listed above) that also posts walkthrough comments is EscapeGames24.

There are so many other free online games out there that I haven't even touched upon.  Some don't interest me and others are way beyond my skill level, but if you enjoy online games there is undoubtedly one (or more) out there for you.  Luckily, playing games like these is no longer considered a waste of time, as studies have shown that they actually increase mental acuity, especially in older people, as well as manual dexterity.  So I am not wasting time on puzzles and games, I am increasing my brain power and coordination, and there is nothing wrong with that!

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