Games (magazine)

Games (magazine)

Infobox Magazine
title = Games Magazine

image_size =
image_caption =
editor =
editor_title =
frequency = Monthly
circulation =
category = Puzzle
company = Kappa Publishing Group
publisher = Games Publications
firstdate = September/October 1977
country = USA
language = English
website = []
issn = 0199-9788
:"This article is about a U.S. puzzle magazine. For the UK computer and video games magazine, see GamesTM.""Games" magazine (ISSN 0199-9788) is a United States-based magazine devoted to games and puzzles, and is published by Games Publications, a division of Kappa Publishing Group.


It was originally published by Playboy (debuting with the September/October 1977 issue) and was briefly out of business in 1990 and 1991. The magazine was bought and brought back to life in 1991 by the mail-order company Bits & Pieces, and based in Manhattan. Kappa Publishing Group acquired it in 1996 and moved the "Games" office to Kappa's headquarters in Pennsylvania. The magazine is published ten times a year (monthly, except for January and June).


Throughout its publishing history, "Games" has differentiated itself from other puzzle magazines by its creative covers that are themselves puzzles, color sections containing feature articles and games, and a large variety of puzzle types, with wit and humor used throughout. Each issue contains a feature article and puzzles in its introductory color section, "Pencilwise", board and video game reviews in its closing color section, and "Wild Cards".


All puzzles in the magazine are ranked by difficulty: a one-star puzzle is an "Easy Hike", while three stars means "Proceed at Your Own Risk". Some puzzles are ranked as a "Mixed Bag" denoted by one filled and one unfilled star, meaning that some may find the puzzle very easy while others will be challenged, that the puzzle may have a range of difficulty with it, or that (like many logic puzzles) it may easily be solved by exhaustive trial and error but requires thinking to solve in a deductive way.

Major Article

Each issue typically has a 3 to 6 page article in the color pages having to do with gaming and hobbies as a broad subject.

Color sections

Common puzzles in the color sections include:
*Eyeball Benders which require identification of common objects based on photos taken from odd angles
*Identification of objects in picture collages of items that share a common theme
*Photo-mysteries which require the reader to use photos and text to deduce a mystery
*Call Our Bluff, where several small anecdotes of historical fact are mixed in with made-up stories of the same style, and the reader is challenged to determine the fake stories from the real ones
*Picture Tic-Tac-Toe which requires the reader to determine a common theme for each row, column, and diagonal of a 3x3 matrix of pictures
*Trivia quizzes with both text and pictures as clues
*Identification of cities or countries from either postcards (with identifying words stripped from each one) or from sections of road maps. (These have also commonly been used for contests in the magazine as well)

Recent issues have included a multipart puzzle over several pages, where the solution of each sub-puzzle is used to complete the overall puzzle. Recent versions of these have been based on traveling to various locations in the world, though this aspect is only used for the theme of each sub-puzzle.


Pencilwise is a newsprint pencil puzzle section which forms the core of the magazine and contains common puzzle varieties such as:
*cryptic crosswords
*word searches
*math and logic puzzles
*unique puzzle types such as crossword variations
*visual logic puzzles like Paint by Numbers and Battleships"'
*cartoon rebuses
*variety of other wordplay and visual puzzles

Each "Pencilwise" also contains The World's Most Ornery Crossword, a large standard crossword puzzle which has two sets of clues spanning 3 pages; one set, which is revealed by folding one page in half to hide the second page, are clues rated 3-stars, while the clues under this fold are rated as one-star; the answers to both sets of clues are the same.

Recent years have seen two pages of "Pencilwise" dedicated to puzzles aimed at pre-teen children.

Another new feature of "Pencilwise" in recent years has been a Puzzlecraft column, authored by Mike Selinker, that describes how readers can make their own puzzles, placed alongside puzzles created by the described techniques.

Wild Cards

"Wild Cards"' is the final section which typically contains one or two pages of puzzle miscellany, such as word games, trivia, or chess problems.

December issue

The December issue each year includes a compilation of new and noteworthy games in its Games 100 list, similar to the German Spiel des Jahres, and usually includes a contest based on this list. More recent years have also included a separate Electronic Games 100, focusing on video games for both computer, console, and portable systems. Notable game titles also introduced into a Games Hall of Fame, updated each year along with the Games 100 list.


Most issues feature a puzzle-solving contest; in fact, the magazine periodically has a hidden contest in which part of the challenge is to find the concealed puzzle. Readers were also challenged to find the fake advertisement among the legitimate ones until November 2002 (the last one was for the Red Card, a credit card used to pay off credit cards).

Readers who write in with mistakes (in a section called "Laundry") or alternate solutions to puzzles (in the "Eureka" section) are often rewarded with a "Games" T-shirt. Readers may otherwise obtain a "Games" T-shirt by being a runner-up in a "Games" contest.

As part of the "Games 100", there is usually a contest to identify selected games featured in that list based on small pictures of the board or playing pieces from the game in a photo montage.

Earlier in its publishing history, the Letters page would also include an "Envelope of the Month", typically a highly decorated envelope or postcard sent in by a reader in response to a contest or general correspondence with the magazine. The winner of this would receive a Games T-shirt. This feature was phased out when the magazine changed publishers and publication schedules.

"Games" has had two rather large contest series in the past that have since been discontinued. The first contest was a scavenger hunt that ran in yearly installments; items in the hunt were usually not rare but difficult to determine what exactly was needed (requiring some puzzle solving or research) or hard to acquire. Winners were determined based on the most objects collected and fitting the requirements. A second long-running contest was "Calculatrivia", where a long equation, of approximately 40 variables, was given, and each variable was associated with a clue that resulted in some numerical value. The clues were usually straight-forward to interpret, but the required information would take considerable research effort to identify. When all variables were accounted for, the equation was to be worked out, and the final value mailed into "Games" along with a list of the individual values.

pecial editions

Games Publications also publishes "Games World of Puzzles" (ISSN 1074-4355) on a bimonthly basis. This magazine is similar to an extended "Pencilwise" section of "Games". It also contains a contest in every issue, most often a variety crossword or trivia quiz.

Bygone sister publications of "Games" include "The Four-Star Puzzler" (1981–1983), "Games Special Edition" (late 1980s-1990), "Games Premium Puzzles" (early 1990s), and "Pencilwise Extra" (also early 1990s). Children's magazines put out by Games were "Games Junior" (1987–1990) and "Zigzag" (mid-1990s). Games has also published a number of books containing "best-of" puzzle collections.


Will Shortz, the editor of "Games" magazine from 1989 to 1993, is currently editor of "The New York Times" crossword puzzle.

The current editorial team includes Wayne Schmittberger and Jennifer Orehowsky, with help from Kappa Publishing editors Sally Andersen and Karen Powell.

Graphic designers include Tina Boligitz, Kevin Boone, and Meg Hine.

ee also

*Cross sums
*Logo extraction puzzles

External links

* [ Official website]
* [ "Second Time Around - relaunching of Games Magazine"] -- 1992 "Folio Magazine" article on the bankruptcy and relaunch of the periodical

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