The Final Frontier

Internet…check.Video Games…check.
Chip installed into your brain that allows you to play Kakuro whenever you think about it…not quite.With the exception of the last example, which is admittedly a bit on the extreme side, Kakuro has conquered (see what I did there?) just about all possible mediums in which someone could conceive of playing Kakuro. Phones, Computers, XBOXs, PS3s, Gameboys have all transformed into outlets for you to satisfy your Kakuro addiction. However, as deep as Kakuro has snuck into the technological bloodstream, there are always some further reaches waiting to be tapped. So, let’s explore some of these untapped areas a bit and see if there is any potential for a Kakuro Conquest (Official “Cheesiest Statement of the Year” nominee).Magazines-A weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly or whatever other publication of various Kakuro puzzles, stories, and profiles on some of the more interesting people that play Kakuro.Product Placement- Can’t you just see Bruce Wayne playing Kakuro as Alfred prepares him his breakfast after a long night of Batmaning? Or perhaps Don Draper as he indulges in his typical mid-morning drink before getting back to fulfilling his roles as an advertising executive and a chauvinist? How about Jeff Probst using Kakuro as a test for staying on the island? The options are endless.E-Newsletters- Basically the same idea as the magazine but in digital form.Billboards- Studies show that the best time to play puzzle games is when you’re driving…it’s science.

Airplanes- Seriously, why don’t airlines give you more in the way of entertainment on domestic flights than an uninteresting magazine, a catalog, and the back of the vomit back? They should throw in a booklet of puzzle games like Kakuro to provide entertainment for the thinkers out there.

Brain Chips- The greatness of this idea speaks for itself.

So what do you think? Are any of these feasible? Do you have any ideas? We’d love to hear them.

The Waiting Game

Provided that you are not a doctor or a nurse, the doctor’s office is not a place known for its capacity to elicit a substantial amount of mental strain from those who enter. The majority of the usually small amount of brain exertion comes from deciding whether to look at Sports Illustrated or Newsweek, answering questions about your symptoms, and dealing with the occasional insurance issue.

This may be a good thing. Being sick can zap our mental energies by itself; we don’t need anything else at the doctor’s to drain what remains from us. We’d much prefer to sit back, read about Tiger Woods, and list off our problems so the doctor can tell us how to solve them. That’s all well and good until you consider that, as a population we are probably not using our brains quite enough.

Think about this. When you get home from work, what do you do? Most people will say that they watch TV, eat, watch some more TV, and go to bed. Not exactly the most stimulating way to pass the time. Don’t get me wrong, people need some time to unwind after a full day’s work, but unwinding doesn’t need to come in the form of watching a group of 20-something New Jerseyans make fools out of themselves in a bar.

Unwinding can be challenging; it can be stimulating and still relaxing at the same time. Need proof? Try playing Kakuro. While it is challenging, it’s the sort of unpressured challenge that won’t stress you out. You feel like your doing something when you play Kakuro, and have a sense of accomplishment when to puzzle is successfully conquered. How much accomplishment do you get from listening to a group of people sit around and critique people’s singing?

Let’s get back to the doctor’s office, the one place that should be advocating this kind of mental stimulation but is not. Instead of reading old magazines to pass the time, try B.Y.O.S. (Bringing Your Own Stimulation) in the form of Kakuro.

For one, it gets your brain working at a time you would usually be reading about the latest political sex scandal. Secondly, it distracts you. Thinking about what ails you can be stressful, especially when you think it could be serious. Playing Kakuro will distract you a bit from your present situation, alleviating stress and relaxing you at a potentially tense time.

Print some puzzles off our site or simply bring your laptop and play online. They should have wireless internet there. This is 2011 after all.

Kakuro is great in any situation where you are waiting or taking a break from something. The dentists’ waiting room, the break room at your office, and many other places can be utilized as Kakuro hot spots. Your options are only limited by your own creativity, and other minor obligations like your job duties.

When it comes down to it you should work your brain so it can work for you.

Kakuro Players Are Not Alone

Those who play puzzles like Kakuro have long been seen as quiet folk who would prefer to spend their time face down in a book of puzzles with a pencil in hand and glasses sitting atop their noses. While I’m sure there are people out there that fit this stereotype to a “t,” I’d venture to guess that most avid Kakuro players probably do not.  In fact, I think that many people out there would relish the chance to partake in the joy of Kakuro (sounds cheesy, I know) with others. Well fear not you Kakuro-loving socialites, there are ways in which you can make Kakuro a social activity.
  • Play it with your kids. See this for more info.
  • Compete. Find a friend and see who can finish a puzzle faster. You could even make it interesting and bet on it if you want.
  • Tournament Time. Start an office pool of sorts. Begin with an easy puzzle and get increasingly more difficult with each passing round. Those who can’t complete the puzzle are eliminated with each passing round. The last person standing wins a prize. Everybody likes prizes.
  • If you can’t beat em, join em. Even if you can beat em, it would still be fun to team up with someone else. Choose a difficult puzzle, one that you doubt you’d be able to do by yourself, and play with someone. After all, two heads are better than one.

The socialization doesn’t have to stop when you start the computer, either. Besides taking the pencils out of Kakuro player’s hands and lifting the angle of their faces, the Internet has done a few more things for Kakuro players, like give them a social outlet through:

  • Facebook. We’ve got a Kakuro facebook page. Like us and connect with other Kakuro players who like us too.
  • Facebook…Again. While you’re at it, why not just play our online facebook game? You can connect with other players there too. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Comment on our blog posts. Don’t be shy. Comment on our posts and initiate conversations with others who do likewise.

There you have it. Next time you’re in the mood for Kakuro but still want to be social, consider using one of these techniques. If you have any other ideas, we’d love to hear them.