The 3rd Crypt

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Patrick Berry has published the third installment in his Crypt series of cryptic crossword collections. The PDF set, which contains five block-style cryptics and eight variety cryptics, in on sale at A-Frame Games.

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Denver Immersive Summit

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Denver Immersive Summit will be held at the University of Colorado Denver Science Building on Saturday, November 10. The daylong event will feature creative artists and designers demonstrating their wares and speaking about the past, present, and future of immersive experiences. Tickets are $25 for the full event and students can apply for “scholarship” admission.

So, why should you attend an immersive summit? If you are a theatergoer and your tastes lean toward the experimental, you should attend. If you’ve been hearing about this Meow Wolf installation coming to Denver in  few years and want to know what that’s about, you should attend. If you’re interested in augmented and virtual reality technology, you should attend. If you watch Westworld and want to know how close the premise of that show is to being a reality, you should attend. And if you like escape rooms and want to join a discussion about inclusive escape room design led by Cody Borst and me, you should attend.

Whether or not you can attend the summit, I’m interested in your take on the escape room topic. Have you played an escape room and felt disconnected from some element of the experience? What are the the most important ways an escape room can engage with a wide group of players? Are there drawbacks to an escape room being too inclusive? Please share your thoughts.

The Inkubator / Crosswords LA X

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Laura Braunstein is requesting submissions for an upcoming crossword puzzle subscription service. The Inkubator will feature twice-a-month publications of crossword puzzles constructed by women. Laura and Tracy Bennett will edit the puzzles and seem very open to themes and grid styles that challenge mainstream standards. Constructors may submit drafts and general questions to  inkubatorcrosswords [at] gmail.com. A crowdfunding campaign for subscriptions launches October 21.

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Crosswords LA X will be held this Sunday (October 21) at USC’s Hoffman Hall. Advance registration is closed, but a limited number of walk-in participants will be admitted on tournament day. Tournament organizer Elissa Grossman and puzzle wrangler Alex Boisvert have commissioned puzzles from some of the finest puzzlemakers in the country, and also one from me. Solve-at-home packets will be made available after the tournament and portions of the proceeds go to Reading to Kids. I’m excited to see everyone at the tournament!

 

Ten Words / Bart Bonte Games

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My friend Max Woghiren has posted a web game called Ten Words.

The goal is to fill a five-by-five word grid one letter at a time so that as many rows and columns of the completed word grid contain a word of at least three letters. You have two letter placement options at each turn but don’t know about upcoming letters, so you have to be strategic about your choices. You can play one game per day for leaderboard consideration and additional games in a “practice” mode. I love the press-your-luck element to the game, though I tend to set up an ambitious letter skeleton and then crash and burn in a spate of vowels. Give it a try, and see if you have better luck than me.

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Eric Berlin recently turned me on to the app games of Bart Bonte. I’ve downloaded and completed What’s Inside the Box, Yellow, and Red. Each game comprises a series of puzzle “quickies” that involve pattern induction, logical sequencing, spatial reasoning, and occasional wordplay. None of the puzzles have instructions, but you can request hints. “Lights Out” variants are a bit overused, but the overall puzzle collections are clever and the aesthetics are very attractive.

 

Puzzle Your Kids Videos

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Puzzle Your Kids creator Eric Berlin posted a YouTube instructional video titled How to Make a Word Search. Eric narrates the video and mentions that this will be followed by more videos related to puzzle construction and wordplay. It’s definitely worth a view if you want to learn the basics of word search construction, but also to hear Eric’s avuncular narration and his reactions to unusual bird names. Check it out!

Women of Letters

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If, like me, you’ve gone through the Queer Qrosswords puzzle packet and are looking for a new set of crosswords that supports underrepresented puzzle creators and allied charities, visit the Woman of Letters website. The talented Patti Varol along with an equally talented slate of constructors who “happen to be women” have produced a packet of 18 puzzles. The puzzles are available to those who make a donation of at least $10 to one or more of the participating charities linked on the site. These puzzles lead to solutions that are more than just correct arrangements of letters in a grid. Keep supporting these projects!