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New York Times puzzles…getting too puzzling?

The+New+York+Times+Connections+home+screen.+The+New+York+Times+reports+that+nine+out+of+10+people+who+play+the+game+will+see+it+through+until+the+end%2C+whether+they+win+or+lose.
Photo Credit: Scott_Beale via Flickr under creative commons license
The New York Times ‘Connections’ home screen. The New York Times reports that “nine out of 10 people who play the game will see it through until the end, whether they win or lose.

NYT Games

The Wordle, The Connections, The Sudoku, and the mini crossword . . .those are just four out of the ten unique games offered to millions by The New York Times. Many people look forward to playing these games daily. 

Though these games are a fun additive to any mundane day, some people wonder if they are getting too hard. Many people have been getting extremely discouraged and frustrated while playing these games due to their increasing difficulty levels. The question that arises from this debacle is, should the New York Times throw us a bone? Or should we rise up and accept the challenge, even if at times it seems quite impossible. 

 

Thoughtfully Made

A lot of work goes into making a New York Times puzzle. Over 100 people work on the puzzle and games team at the New York times. Most people on the team work on coming up with clever crossword clues. Others however, such as Wyna Liu and Milena Correra work on other puzzles, such as the Connections and the Vertex. If you want to read the personal stories and experiences of those who work on the NYT games and puzzles, you can do so on the New York Times ‘Our Game Makers’ Page. 

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The motto for the New York Times puzzle makers is “Thoughtfully made and thoughtfully played.” A lot of work goes into making these puzzles just that- puzzling. While at times the games can seem too challenging, NYT games actually go through a rigorous ‘beta’ process to make sure they hit a ‘sweet spot’ that is not too hard or too easy. “Beta test, conducted through the website this time to reach more people, will assess whether players understand the game and how many people solve its daily iterations. Knight’s team is hoping to hit a sweet spot of neither too hard nor too easy.” (Jonathan Knight on NYT game ‘digits’.) 

Overall, though the puzzles can be discouraging at times, it is not the New York Times goal to make you angry or frustrated.  Their goal is to have you consider thoughtful and logical solutions to their puzzles…and maybe to stump you sometimes. Just a little bit. 

I love the idea of a timer feature, even though timed solving makes me nervous! There’s an ongoing debate over timer vs. no timer for many of our games. We’re always considering feedback for new features and improvements, and hope to be able to roll some of these out when we can. Similar to Wordle and Spelling Bee, I’d prefer to vary the difficulty cadence from week to week!

— Wyna Liu, Connections editor NYT

Thoughtfully Played?

Though it has been established that it is not the NYT goal to make its patrons feel frustrated, that is what they seem to be doing more and more frequently. “More than anything they make me angry,” Shares Aniah Auriemma, an avid player of the NYT games. Auriemma is not alone in their opinion. Many people on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok have taken to poking fun at the difficulty of the NYT games. TikTokers such as @iampaulconway and @brandonandshane have gained much popularity from their videos that mock the difficulty of the connections. 

“The connections and the mini crossword are definitely the hardest for me, the clues can be so absurd and niche.” Shares Auriemma. They are not incorrect. Some of the answers for these games do rely on the player holding a compendium of niche knowledge. Answers such as ‘name homophones’ or ‘capital Greek letters’ in the connections tend to make people the angriest.

 

What Should Be Done?

When asked if the NYT should ease up on the difficulty of their games, the answers were shocking. “No,” states Ariemma, confidently. “That would take all of the fun out of it! Yes it makes me mad, but also, it makes me feel so good when I get all the answers right.” 

So even though the puzzles can be more than puzzling at times, they also have the possibility to be rewarding. Maybe it is that rewarding feeling that the New York Times wants us to feel after playing their games.  

 

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About the Contributor
Tess Powell
Tess Powell, reporter
Tess Powell is an avid member of the Colonia High School family. When she is not participating in a stage production or an academic competition with her school's team (The Juggernauts!), she can be found curled up with a book by one of her favorite authors or watching  a cozy true crime documentary (even though they scare her). Powell takes after her mother, author Brooke Beyfuss, in the sense that she has an immense passion for writing. Powell has written and published many short fiction stories. She has even received a few acknowledgements for her pieces. Despite this she still can’t use proper grammar to save her life. Her favorite genres to write range from horror to romance. After high school, Powell is interested in pursuing a major of writing, literature, and publishing at Emerson College in Boston, MA.     

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