All Things Printed & Recorded: Puzzles Rise to the Challenge

This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores.

For March, we’ve exercised our brain to bring you some fascinating info about puzzles.

PuzzleMainVisualTIMELINE
1760s  Londoner John Spilsbury creates early wooden jigsaw puzzles.
c.1900 A jigsaw puzzle craze sweeps the US.
1920s  Jigsaw puzzles become an inexpensive Depression-era pastime.
1932  Jig of the Week, a weekly 25¢ puzzle, is a hit on newsstands.
2011  The world’s largest jigsaw puzzle, with 551,232 pieces, is assembled in Vietnam.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • A 1514 engraving by Albrecht Dürer featured a “magic square,” a distant ancestor to sudoku and other number-based puzzles.
  • Jigsaw puzzles emerged in the 18th century when maps were mounted on wood and cut into pieces along national borders. Known as dissected maps, they were used to teach geography to children.dissected map.png
  • In the early 20th century, the high cost of wooden jigsaw puzzles put them out of reach of average consumers, but they became a staple of the high-society party scene.
  • The first known published crossword puzzle appeared December 21, 1913, in the New York World. By the 1920s they were carried in most US newspapers.

DISCOVER MORE
book The Jigsaw Puzzle: Piecing Together a History, Anne D. William
book The History and Craft of Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles: From Historical Source Instructions to Modern Tools and Techniques, Carrie Franzwa
book Crossworld: One Man’s Journey Into America’s Crossword Obsession, Marc Romano
book A Clue for The Puzzle Lady, Parnell Hall
book The New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzles: 50 Sunday Puzzles from the Pages of The New York Times, Will Shortz, ed.
book Sudoku Mania, Book 1
clapperboard Wordplay

Not Your Parents’ Monopoly: The New Generation of Board Games

When you think about board games, what comes to mind?  Games like Scrabble, Life, Clue, and if you had a hankering for games that take all day, maybe Risk?  Perhaps they were things you played as a kid on family nights, but today you would prefer to watch paint dry rather than sit through a three hour slog of Monopoly all while desperately hoping you’ll land on your greedy nephew’s Boardwalk hotel so you can declare bankruptcy and go do something – anything – else.

But what if I told you board game popularity is on the rise again?  In the last year alone sales grew by 28% in the US, and board games are a multi-billion dollar business worldwide.  What’s driving this growth?  Well, primarily a new, better generation of board games.  These new games drive enjoyment for all players throughout the entirety of the game.  Problems that make games less fun, such as the runaway winner problem in Monopoly, or the problem in Life that the game is mostly resolved by who gets more lucky spins, are generally problems of the past.  Imagine a game featuring even more depth of strategy and decision making than Risk but only taking an hour to play; the newer generation accomplishes this.

Not only are these games demonstrably better designed and more fun, but they also promote something our digital life just cannot duplicate: Real. Humans. Interacting.  This interaction promotes pro-social behavior.  Unlike online video games where particularly toxic behaviors can be hidden behind an anonymous username, board games require you to actually not be a jerk, unless you want to be confined to solitaire games forever.

At Half Price Books, we have embraced this new generation of games, and our selection features some of the most popular games available, all at 20% off their MSRP.  Here’s just a few of what we have to offer and why you must play them:

Catan
Catan is widely thought of as THE starting point for the revival of the board game industry.  Your role in the game is to build up settlements and cities on the newly discovered island of Catan and try to be the first to score ten points.   A relatively simple game that plays 2-4 players in about an hour, it features hallmarks of modern gaming like resource management, building structures and area map control, as well as a few classic mechanics like dice rolling and card trading.  If you want to see the roots of modern gaming and get a taste of what is out there, pick this one up. Or, if you have younger children, check out Catan Jr.
Catan Continue reading

Another Thanksgiving Tradition — Family Games & Puzzles

It’s THAT week again, and if your table isn’t set and ready to go, I am here to assure you, you still have plenty of time. Dig into the inner reaches of your closets and playrooms and dig up all the fixin’s…for November 18-21 is National Games and Puzzles Week! Oh, you thought I meant that other thing that is happening this week?

 I know, everyone is thinking about turkey and pie and early morning trips to your favorite retailer for Black Friday deals, but the folks at The Million Minute Family Challenge encourage, nay, beg you to spend a few precious moments playing this week!

If your family growing up was anything like mine, a few minutes of play often ended in intense challenges, plotting, scheming, team-picking and utter ridiculousness with the likes of: all-ages charades, a 42 dominoes tournament, a dining room table-turned jigsaw puzzle station- all non-digital, no technology necessary and memories 100% guaranteed to last a lifetime. Why, it seemed like the food and stress of the holiday was all but forgotten. 

 

Need some suggestions? Check out some of the great selections in the puzzles and games section at your dear ol’ Half Price Books! Go forth, choose a few games or puzzles you love, old and new, and GET PLAYING!

Are you a jigsaw junkie? Here’s a record of one personal jigsaw journey which keeps me laughing to this day:

 
 

So which game or puzzle is your family’s favorite? — Becky

Becky is Marketing Communications Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @Bexican75.