2021 is rapidly coming to a close. As we do every year, we look back on another eventful year in the world of puzzles and games.
And we are incredibly proud of the contributions both PuzzleNation Blog and PuzzleNation made to the puzzle community as a whole.
Over the last year, we explored board games and card games, strategy games and trivia games, dice games and tile games, do-it-yourself puzzlers and pen-and-paper classics. We met game designers, constructors, and creative types of all kinds, many of them relatively new creators that are part of a new generation of puzzle innovators.
We unraveled math puzzles and diabolical brain teasers. With our fellow PuzzleNationers, we tackled visual puzzles, trivia, optical illusions, and logic problems. We played punny hashtag games galore, exploring everything from mysteries and art to geography and weather, Halloween puns and puzzly theme songs.
We delved into puzzle history, pondering hidden codes in music, cryptography in Ancient Egypt, and secret messages on old swords. We explored the puzzly endeavors of Voltaire and Frederick the Great, how the Founding Fathers relied on coded messages, and even delved below the waves to investigate ENIGMA machines discovered decades later.
We got to see the fourth and fifth Crossword Mysteries films. We defended the noble art of puns, searched for the greatest fictional TV escape room, and found the ultimate jigsaw puzzle table.
We marked 150 years since the birth of Arthur Wynne, 15 years since the debut of the Wordplay documentary, and 10,000 days of Will Shortz puzzles.
We found puzzly ways to celebrate everything from Independence Day and Halloween to Thanksgiving and Christmas. We lamented the sad losses of luminaries like Maki Kaji and Stephen Sondheim.
We watched computers continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in puzzles. Computer programs helped design word squares/magic squares of incredible size and 3-D design and printing led to bigger and more complicated Rubik-style twisty puzzles. The crossword-solving program Dr. Fill even won the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament!
And speaking of ACPT, it was fascinating to watch as crossword tournaments and events continued to migrate into the virtual space.
Boswords continued to lead the charge all year for virtual puzzle events, launching the Winter Wondersolve event, the Spring Themeless League, their traditional summer tournament, and the return of the Fall Themeless League.
Lollapuzzoola also returned in virtual form, as did ACPT (although the organizers did hold out hope for an in-person event).
But arguably the biggest topic of the year, one we returned to over and over in 2021, was the power of puzzles and how influential puzzles can be.
We discussed how crosswords reflect what’s going on in society, and celebrated how the constructing community was continuing to grow more diverse. We watched as projects like the Expanded Crossword Name Database sought to make the cluing and grid entries more inclusive.
PuzzleNation Blog happily contributed to the discussion, pondering what made something “puzzle-worthy” and questioning how discussions of “too familiar,” “too safe,” and “too family friendly” can be exclusionary.
We asked who is the average solver and discussed how that concept can be employed in negative ways, and championed puzzles that were more fair and accessible to solvers than others. (We even mentioned ways you might bring people back to the world of puzzles after bad solving experiences.)
And honestly, that’s just the blog. PuzzleNation’s good fortune, hard work, and accomplishments in 2021 went well beyond that.
In a tumultuous and uncertain year, we focused on honoring our promise to our fellow puzzlers: maintaining and producing the best puzzle experience possible.
Penny Dell Crossword App, Daily POP Crosswords, Daily POP Word Search, Penny Dell Sudoku… no matter the platform, our team worked hard to produce engaging puzzles at all levels, and we are immensely proud of the work the PN team performed this year.
Every day, we delivered top-notch content for Penny Dell Crosswords App, Daily POP Crosswords, and Daily POP Word Search. Whether it was monthly deluxe sets and holiday bundles for PDCW or the world-class topical puzzles by some of the industry’s best constructors for Daily POP, hundreds of outstanding crosswords and word searches wended their way to our loyal and enthusiastic solvers.
But whether we’re talking about crosswords, Sudoku, or word searches, we’re proud to say that every single puzzle represents our high standards of quality puzzle content crafted for solvers and PuzzleNationers.
And your response has been inspiring! Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search are rolling, the blog has over 2600 followers, and with our audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms continuing to grow, the enthusiasm of the PuzzleNation readership is both humbling and very encouraging.
2021 was a difficult year, but it’s one that also reminded us of the amazing things that can be accomplished when puzzlers come together. And we firmly believe that the coming year will be brighter, more exciting, and more creatively fulfilling.
Thank you for your support, your interest, and your feedback, PuzzleNationers. The new year looms large, and we look forward to seeing you in 2022!
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