Puzzling the time away

Renee Rosenow

What’s a six-letter word for something to ignore a professor with?

The answer: A puzzle!

Puzzles like Sudoku, crosswords, word scrambles and ciphers have been popular pass-the-time items since they first appeared in newspapers and magazines.

Though each puzzle has its own story about how different people invented them; one thing is true, people love doing them.

According to Laura Sonday-Zeimis, store manager of Games by James in the Oakwood Mall, 4800 Golf Road. Sudoku was first created in the U.S., but was unpopular at first. Going by the name Number Place, it soon made its way over seas into Europe and Japan. The Japanese then called the number game, Sudoku, which translates to “single number.”

“After that, it really hit the States, being printed in the New York Times and different places. And it really got popular after that,” Sonday-Zeimis said. “I’d say in the last couple years it became a huge craze.”

Sonday-Zeimis said collections of the puzzles, especially Sudoku, sell very well at Games by James. She added that even though Sudoku is basically a crossword, but with numbers, Sudoku is easier for people to do.

“The concept may be simple, but they’re definitely challenging,” Sonday-Zeimis said. “They’re easy to get addicted to.”

Senior Brian Mixtacki agrees. Mixtacki, who has been doing Sudokus and crosswords for years, has been creating the Sudoku puzzles for The Spectator for a few semesters now.

He said they give people a better outlet to use their time. People who actually have time to waste, Mixtacki added.

Both Mixtacki and Sonday-Zeimis agree these small little puzzles cannot only be quite fun, but a mental challenge as well.

“I used to do them over the summer as a way to kill time, and, it sounds kind of corny,” Mixtacki said, “but stay sharp mentally.”

The puzzles come in different variations of difficulty and the books contain the spectrum from “this is so easy anyone can do it” to the frustrating opposite end “this is freaking impossible!” Sonday-Zeimis said that because of the range of difficulty, a person doesn’t have to be an expert at the puzzles to buy a collection.

“They sell well because they’re good gifts for people,” Sonday-Zeimis said. “They’re good for younger kids and everyone. They definitely hit a wide range of people.”

So while no one may know the future of these addicting puzzles, Sonday-Zeimis and Mixtacki are both certain that they will only gain more popularity by being a leisurely, yet mentally challenging, activity.