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Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer


The consistent joy of New York Times games

There is light at the end of the puzzle

If there is one thing that I love throughout my week, it is a sense of consistency. I love doing the same thing every day, leaning into a routine that helps ground me as the world changes around me. There is one thing that genuinely doesn’t change in my life — a source of laughter, solace and sanity — the New York Times games. As I pull my frequent all-nighters, I know that the games are there to give me a quick break to step back from all of the work ahead. 

There is something reassuringly familiar about the New York Times Crossword. No matter what I might be freaking out about, whether it is an essay or critique, the New York Crossword is always there for me. I love being able to forget about whatever deadlines I have and instead ponder what kind of random tricks the New York Times games team might be trying to pull on me. The cryptic clues and clever wordplay offer more than just a puzzle; they serve as a poignant reminder that some things remain constant — namely, that I’m never going to understand more than half of the clues on the first attempt.

I’ve also recently found a new love for the Mini Crossword. The mini crossword is more than just a game. It gives me something to screenshot and send to my friends, bragging about my time being under 15 seconds or complaining about it taking over a minute. Does it frustrate me when I cannot figure out what seems to be one of the easiest clues ever? Obviously. But would I have it any other way? Absolutely not. 

I'm going to be fully honest here: Connections has been really consistent in my life lately — consistently hard. There was one from a couple nights ago that really took it out of me. But at least it is always there to humble me when I feel a little too good. I’ve been able to find some more simple meaning of Connections in my life, apart from just another game I can play. It serves as a good reminder that I can link small moments together with meaning and humor, embracing the absurdity in life and trying to find joy in things that are seemingly ordinary and unconnected. Finishing a game of Connections offers a moment of clarity and connection that cannot typically be found by late nights of studying.

I have been a Wordle stan since before it was a New York Times game. My favorite way to play it is to turn and ask my boyfriend to give me a five letter word, and then go from there. I’ve even figured it out in one guess two times (I still do not know how I did it). There is something so fun about being able to check in with the WordleBot and see how my guesses stood up against the other players. Sometimes I feel like I even learn new words, but most of the time I just sit there racking my brain trying to find another five letter word.

The beta games are some of the best parts of the New York Times Games universe. Lately, I have really been enjoying the new game Strands. It is like a word search, except I find that I am usually better at it than a word search. While it is less consistent since it might not make it to the big leagues, I still find a great sense of joy in opening up safari on my phone and finding the newest game of Strands to play. 

As I sit and wonder what my future might hold post-graduation, I find comfort in knowing that the New York Times games will still be there for me — a constant companion in an ever-changing world. From crossword grids to Connections, Wordles and Strands, I am always going to remember that there is a light at the end of the puzzle.

So here’s to a lifetime of laughter, companionship and endless struggle with the New York Times games by my side.

You can contact Christina at

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.