A Spooky Video Game Urban Legend: Solved!

It’s strange that puzzles and games don’t seem to have urban legends attached to them, even though they’ve been with us for so long.

I mean, sure, there’s palindromes believed to have magical powers… and cursed puzzle boxes like in the Hellraiser films… but I can’t think of any pervasive urban legends around modern puzzles and games.

It strikes me as odd because there are plenty about video games, which are a relatively new art form, generally speaking. There are stories about haunted Legend of Zelda cartridges and sinister destructive secret characters in Minecraft.

There’s the supposed Madden Curse (where athletes who appear on the cover of Madden games end up suffering poor seasons or getting injured), and even the conspiracy stories about an arcade game called Polybius that government agents used to download game data from in the 1980s.

Recently, an urban video game legend was put to rest.

It starts, as many urban legends, bits of folklore, and spooky stories do, with a hazy recollection. There’s a forum on Reddit cleverly titled “Tip of my joystick,” where people can post details about a game whose name they don’t remember, and the other posters help them remember it.

The post was about one of those complete-a-task/farming-style games, like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, or Farmville.

Except it had an appropriately sinister twist, like something out of a Hitchcock movie or an episode of a weekly crime drama like Criminal Minds or Bones.

At one point, the player gets into an argument with their wife and kills her. The game continues as a farm simulator, except you periodically have to hide the body from police.

This was clearly meant to be a darkly tongue-in-cheek game mechanic, almost Weekend at Bernie’s-esque. Obviously, this game wouldn’t be for everyone. You might even think people were purposely creating a dark urban legend of their own by making this post in the first place.

But the fellow posters of r/tipofmyjoystick tried their darnest to figure out the identity of this game. Some asked questions for further details, while others suggested possible games, but were quickly proved wrong.

The game remained unidentified for several years, coming to be known as “that evil farming game,” even getting its own dedicated reddit forum.

The original poster, at one point, finally concluded at one point that they must have dreamt the game, or misremembered something while half-asleep.

In the years before the Internet became the prolific searching and information tool it is now, I had plenty of experiences describing random TV episodes or b-movies that people presumed I had made up or dreamt up while home sick on the couch from school. (One particular episode of MacGyver involving a hidden temple with traps and a giant blue gemstone, for instance, was a joke in my group of friends for years until I could finally point to the episode on Netflix or the episode page on IMDb to prove its existence.)

So what was this “evil farming game” the original poster remembered? Was it real? Or a sleepy invention?

Well, it turns out it was neither.

Diligent posters and game fans went looking through the video library of a YouTuber called Vinesauce after the original poster mentioned watching it often. And they found a video where Vinesauce jokingly suggested a farming style game with the grim addition to the gameplay.

The original poster misremembered this as a real game, and started the ball rolling on an Internet video game urban legend that lasted half a decade.

It turns out, our brains are good at this sort of thing — convincing ourselves that what we half-remember is real — and this urban legend evolved as something similar to the Mandela Effect, a mass misremembering of something.

Two prominent examples of the Mandela Effect from recent history are the Berenstain Bears (which many people swear should be the BerenSTEIN bears) and the movie Shazaam staring Sinbad, which never existed. (They’re misremembering the Shaquille O’Neal genie movie Kazaam from 1996.)

So, this spooky mystery was solved, but perhaps a more interesting mystery — how the original poster’s brain created this fake game in his memory — stands in its place.

I found this story both fascinating and charming — if a little morbid — and I thought it would be the perfect puzzly conclusion to the Halloween season.

Have you ever misremembered something like this, fellow puzzlers, or experienced something similar to the Mandela Effect? Or are there any urban legends about puzzles and games that we should know about? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


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Trick or treating is over, but there’s no trick here. Treat yourself to some delightful deals on puzzles. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

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A Punny Costume Challenge Full of Tricks and Treats for Halloween!

Happy Halloween, puzzlers and PuzzleNationers!

One of the best things about Halloween is guessing what people’s costumes are. Clever costumes can be great fun, and I’m a huge fan of costumes that only cost a few bucks to put together, because they really let your creativity shine through.

Punny costumes lend themselves to the low-budget costume genre brilliantly. So it’s only appropriate that we celebrate Halloween in the puzzliest way possible — by looking at some punny costumes!

It’s simple. I post a picture, and you guess what the costume is.

For example:

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She’s the family breadwinner!

I’ve compiled ten costumes for you to figure out. Let’s see how many you can get!


PuzzleNation’s Punderful Halloween Costume Game!

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[All photos will be accredited in our answer post next week!]


How many did you get? Have you seen any great punny costumes we missed? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you. And Happy Halloween!

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Halloween is almost here, and we have some spookily good deals for you to check out. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

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The Boswords Crossword Tournament Returns This Weekend!

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Yes, fellow puzzlers, it’s tournament time again!

This Sunday, July 25th, from 1 PM to 6 PM Eastern, the Boswords Crossword Tournament returns! The fifth edition of this event will be contested online for the second year in a row, so it’s the perfect opportunity to test your puzzly skills.

If you haven’t signed up yet, registration closes tomorrow at 5 PM Eastern.

With two divisions to choose from — Individual and Pairs — puzzlers of all ages and experience levels are welcome to enjoy some challenging and clever crosswords in a day of puzzly fun and camaraderie.

Tournament organizers Andrew Kingsley and John Lieb (along with talented puzzle editor Brad Wilber) have gathered a diabolical Ocean’s Eleven-style crew of terrific constructors for this year’s puzzles. The five themed puzzles in regular competition (as well as the championship themeless final) will be constructed by Malaika Handa, Andrew Kingsley, Chandi Deitmer, Wyna Liu, Hoang-Kim Vu, Rob Gonsalves, and Jennifer Lim!

Boswords is asking for $25 for adults, $35 for pairs, and $5 for students to (virtually) attend and compete, which is a real bargain! (Also, for anyone with financial difficulties, there is a discounted rate available.)

If you want to solve the puzzles at your leisure and outside of the competitive setting, it’ll only cost you $10 for the puzzle packet, which you’ll receive Monday by email.

To check out the full details of this year’s event, click here! (And for our rundown of last year’s tournament puzzles, click here!)

Will you be attending the Boswords tournament, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you.


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Two Crossword Anniversaries This Week!

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Crossword history isn’t exactly a field of study that dates back to ancient times — I mean, we only celebrated the centennial of the crossword back in 2013 — but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge amount of historical crossword material out there to be commemorated.

In fact, this week marks two fairly meaningful crossword anniversaries, one to be celebrated today, the other tomorrow.

The first crossword anniversary to observe is the 150th birthday of Arthur Wynne.

[Image courtesy of express.co.uk.]

In 1913, Arthur Wynne created the first modern crossword puzzle — which he called a Word-Cross puzzle — and over a hundred years later, we are still enjoying the ever-increasing variety of puzzles and clues spawned by that “fun”-filled grid.

Wynne was born on June 22, 1871 in Liverpool, England, but moved to the states in the early 1890s, spending time in Pittsburgh and New York City before creating his Word-Cross puzzle for the New York Sunday World.

Of course, the crossword as we know it — with its square grid and the black-and-white square patterning — are due not to Mr. Wynne, but to his former associate, future first New York Times crossword editor Margaret Farrar.

But, speaking of figures who helped elevate crosswords to greater prominence, that brings us to our second anniversary.

Tomorrow marks the 15th anniversary of the release of the influential crossword documentary Wordplay.

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Wordplay introduced several famous names in crossword tournament circles, like Ellen Ripstein, Trip Payne, Tyler Hinman, Jon Delfin, and Al Sanders, as well as highlighting many celebrity crossword solvers like Jon Stewart, Ken Burns, Bill Clinton, and more. The documentary also chronicled the 2005 edition of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, bringing national attention to the tournament (and inspiring a Simpsons episode about crosswords).

Wordplay sparked a 40% increase in attendance the year after it aired, and the growing interest in the yearly event caused the tournament to actually change locations to a larger venue in New York City for 7 years!

(It has since returned to the Stamford Marriott, its traditional setting, despite actually topping the biggest NYC attendance in 2019, and again virtually in 2021.)

But the impact Wordplay had on the tournament itself, and interest in crosswords in general, cannot be overstated.

And this week, we celebrate both crossword anniversaries, one marking the genesis of crosswords, and the other marking how far crosswords had come, and how much farther they could go in the future.

It’s a pretty cool confluence of dates, to be sure.


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It’s International Tabletop Day!

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It’s International Tabletop Day!

Whether you play board games, role-playing games, card games, dice games, puzzles, or logic games, this is the holiday for you, family, and friends to come together and enjoy games.

So, to celebrate, we’ve got a grab-bag of different ideas for you today. Want to learn more about games through video playthroughs? We’ve got you covered. Want to solve a Mix and Match puzzle all about games? We’ve got you covered. Want to play something similar to Monopoly that’s not Monopoly? We’ve got you covered.

Please enjoy this somewhat chaotic sampling of board game-themed goodness in honor of Tabletop Day!


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Monopoly is the most famous board game in history. We really can’t discuss the topic of board games without mentioning Monopoly.

But Monopoly has its issues. It takes a long time to play, and if you fall behind, it’s incredibly difficult to catch up. Plus, if you get eliminated, it’s not fun to watch other people keep going.

So what do you do if you like some of the game mechanics in Monopoly but not the total package? Easy! Use our handy-dandy guide to find other games that do part (or ALL) of Monopoly better than Monopoly!

Maybe you enjoy buying property and building it up with enhancements and making money with it. That’s great. You should check out Lords of Vegas.

It’s a casino-building game set in the early days of Las Vegas. It’s got play money, dice, all sorts of strategy, plus a gambling mechanic where you can make up for monetary shortfalls. It’s a brilliant game and so so much fun.

Maybe it’s collecting valuable cards, negotiating and trading with other players that you enjoy most about Monopoly. Terrific! You should try Sheriff of Nottingham.

In Sheriff of Nottingham, players collect cards with different goods to take to market — apples, chickens, bread, and cheese — as well as cards of contraband items (like spices, mead, and weapons). Each turn, one player is the Sheriff, trying to stop the other players from sneaking contraband into the market. So you can bluff, or bribe, or try to sneak goods past the Sheriff, or just play it straight with regular goods.

The game allows for trading, cutting deals, being sneaky, and bonuses for being the person with the most of certain goods (apples, for instance) at the market. It’s so much fun, and allows for lots of fun interaction throughout the game, since nobody is ever eliminated.

Do you like completing colored sets of items? Outmaneuvering other players? Claiming valuable property that other players want? Pretty much everything involved in Monopoly is also part of Ticket to Ride.

In Ticket to Ride, players collect cards and play train cards on a map in order to complete different train routes to earn points. Not only can you score by completing those routes under your banner, but you gain bonus points if you can connect distant locations through your railways.

It covers a lot of the strategy and craftiness that made Monopoly famous, but in a sleeker, quicker package.

Oh, and if you want a totally off-the-walls Monopoly-inspired game, there’s always The Doom That Came to Atlantic City.

In this game, you crush houses to claim properties, play Chants (instead of Chance) cards, and basically try to be the best doomsday cultist at the table, summoning your monstrous god to end the world before the other players can.

It’s delightfully tongue-in-cheek, great fun, and a hilarious inversion of a lot of classic Monopoly tropes. I highly recommend it.


Oh, were you looking for some great video content? We’ve got you covered!

If you’re looking for great recommendations and playthroughs of games that your family will love — like Sushi Go, Codenames, Tak, or Takenoko — Girls’ Game Shelf is one of my favorite YouTube channels. The hosts (Kiki and AnnaMaria) are brilliant and insightful, the players are hilarious, and the game choices are topnotch.

It’s been a few months since they’ve uploaded, but there’s a load of terrific content already waiting for you there. Check out Girls’ Game Shelf!

And for slightly less-family friendly — but still fantastic — fare, No Rolls Barred‘s game playthroughs are uproariously funny. Whether they’re bickering over Telestrations, betraying and misleading each other in epic-length games of Blood on the Clocktower, or simply pitching insane products with Snake Oil, their videos are incredibly entertaining.

Plus the channel has top ten lists of games by genre or play-style, skits, and glimpses of game history. They recently passed 50,000 subscribers on YouTube, and their content keeps getting better. Check them out!


Yes, it’s a puzzle on International Tabletop Day. Hey, we’re PuzzleNation, we’ve got to include some puzzly fun, don’t we?

Today, we’ve got a Mix and Match puzzle for you. Can you anagram these phrases into the names of characters from famous board games, and then match them up with their board game?


How are you celebrating International Tabletop Day? Let us know in the comment section below! We’d love to hear from you.

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You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!

Puzzly Suggestions for Valentine’s Day!

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Valentine’s Day is a little more than a week away, but there’s still plenty of time to whip up a puzzly treat for the special someone in your life!

And naturally we’ve got a few suggestions…

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Jigsaw puzzles are the perfect metaphor for relationships, as they require separate pieces working together to complete the picture.

There are necklaces and other pieces of jigsaw-themed jewelry, as well as do-it-yourself jigsaw patterns you can utilize. You could depict anything from a favorite photo to a specific Valentine’s message in the completed image.

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Now, you can always start with something simple, like a subscription to a puzzle service like The Crosswords ClubThe American Values Club Crossword, or The Inkubator. New puzzles every week or every month are a great gift. (Especially the Valentine’s Deluxe Sets for the Penny Dell Crosswords app! *wink*)

If they’re more into mechanical puzzles, our friends at Tavern Puzzles offer several brain teasers that incorporate a heart shape.

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But if you’re looking for something more personalized, why not make a crossword for them yourself?

(Yes, you can also commission a top puzzler to do one for you, but you’d usually want to get the ball rolling on something like that well before Valentine’s Day.)

Now, to be fair, crosswords can be tough and time-intensive to make, so if that feels a little daunting, why not try a Framework puzzle or a crisscross instead? They incorporate the same crossing style, but don’t require you to use every letter.

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It allows you to maintain a terrific word list all about you and your significant other without all the effort of filling in every square crossword-style.

Or you could write the object of your affection a coded love letter! All throughout history, people have employed different tricks and techniques to keep their private messages away from prying eyes, and you could do the same!

Whether it’s a simple letter-shifting cipher or something more complex, make sure your message is worth reading. =)

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[Image courtesy of ibookbinding.com.]

Plus you could learn a bit of letterlocking to add some flair — and a sense of puzzly secrecy and personalization — to your message. It involves a mix of precise folds, interlocking pieces of paper, and sealing wax in order to create a distinctive design or pattern.

Even if you don’t go the encryption route, the unique presentation of a letter-locked message makes a simple card or a heartfelt note feel more precious.

[Image courtesy of YouTube.]

Have you considered a puzzle bouquet? You could grab some newspaper crosswords and origami them into flower shapes for a fun puzzle-fueled spin on a holiday classic.

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Or you could gather flower-themed puzzles and spell out messages in the grids.

Rows Garden immediately comes to mind, as do Daisy and Flower Power, which you can find in Penny Press magazines!

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Or you could hide jigsaw pieces around the house that, when put together, spell out a Valentine’s message or a picture of the two of you.

Put your own spin on the idea. A little bit of effort can go a long way, plus it doesn’t cost anything.

With a little more effort, you could whip up a scavenger hunt! You could leave clues around leading to a gift, or a romantic dinner, or some other grand finale. Maybe offer a rose with each clue. (You can do this without leaving the house, like a reverse escape room!)

Show off how much you know about him or her. You could make each clue (or destination, safety allowing) about your relationship or about your partner, allowing you to show off how well you know them… where you first met, favorite meals, favorite movie…

If you don’t want to leave things around where anyone could nab them, keep a few small tokens on you, giving one for each destination reached or clue solved. Heck, you could enlist a friend to text clues to your special someone once they’ve reached a particular destination!

Or for something less formal, you could make a game of your romantic wanderings and play Valentine’s Day Bingo.

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[I found this blank template on Makoodle.com.]

Maybe go for a walk or take a drive with your loved one, and see if they can get bingo by observing different things. A couple holding hands as they walk, a Valentine’s Day proposal, outrageously priced flowers…

You could even channel-surf and see if you can get bingo from all the Valentine’s Day programming.

The possibilities are endless when you put your mind to it.


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!