Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sudoku and crosswords: a cultural comparison

This long cultural analysis of the differences between crossword puzzles and Sudoku, Japan's number puzzles, isn't very kind to the latter. Crossword aficionados are quoted calling Sudoku "a total negation of crossword culture ... [requiring] no knowledge of trivia or history, no literary bent." It's something you can play even if you're "completely illiterate." Ouch.

On the other hand, in a jibe at the crossword crowd, the author writes, "Sudoku doesn't care what you know, smarty-pants" and quotes Wayne Gould, the man who introduced Sudoku to the West, as saying, "It's not what you know—it's how you think. That's what Sudoku tests."

Sudoku is the product of a country—Japan—whose education system places a lot of emphasis on mathematics. Puzzle-oriented people there naturally gravitate to games like Sudoku.

Sudoku is escapism, like watching TV, but unlike TV, which is passive, Sudoku is also a workout for the brain. Considering some of the time-killers out there, such as catching up on the latest news about TomKat or Brangelina (I had to look up those spellings, by the way), Sudoku isn't a bad way to pass the time at all.

You can play Sudoku online here.

"Geek? Who you callin' a geek?"

—Mellow Monk

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