It was reported earlier this week that Games magazine finally shuttered. It has been a zombie, surviving on reprints for a long time. Lord knows, the last time I sold a puzzle to them was probably a decade, ago. But Games was such a crucial point in my development as a puzzle maker. On Facebook many of my puzzle community friends have been mentioning their first issue. I can remember mine, I was traveling with my father back from the Midwest, and he picked up a copy at O'Hare. On the cover, it had photographs of impersonators of famous people, and you had to do figure out which were the real deal and which were the fakes. (It turns out they were all fake.) On the flight hope back to Boston I was hooked.
It's a fascinating thing to think back now how Games really entertained almost all generations. I couldn't have been much older than 8 or 9 at the time, but it was clearly a magazine for adults. Yet there was enough content in there for everyone to be fascinated with. Almost every page had some sort of magic that really sparked the imagination.
I got a subscriptions shortly afterward and I would mark my favorite puzzles, usually the easy ones, more often than not some sort of logic-based brainteasers. And then, I would try my hand at making the exact same puzzle, however in my own style. These were terrible, terrible, terrible, puzzles. But it didn't matter because I loved doing it. I wanted so bad to be in Games magazine, that it became a bucket list goal.
It's funny when I look back I was always more fascinated with the glossy page puzzles more so then the Pencilwise section. In fact I think my favorite two sections were Your Move, (where the readers sent in puzzles), and Wild Cards. Both were succint, creative, bite sized puzzles. I loved Your Move especially because I knew that if I were to ever get into Games magazine that would be the page that I would be on first. As I got older, I slowly gravitated toward more of the pencil puzzles, although, curiously, I never really did any of the crosswords until much, much later. They never spoke to me then. I was always preferring the wackier variety word puzzles.
I had finally sold my first puzzle Games in 1996. Will Shortz had long since left and began editing the New York Times crossword. Mike Shenk also had moved on and started Puzzability. Peter Gordon to Sterling Publishing. Nancy Schuster was gone. Henry Rathvon and Emily Cox and Henry Hook had stopped selling too. At the time I had sold the puzzles, Susan West and Francis Heaney were the creative forces behind it. So, yes, it really wasn't Games magazine but damn it it sure as hell said Games magazine on the cover. So, I'd made it. Bucket list entry ticked off. Boom.
To all involved in that classic run: I don't think I'll ever be able to put into words how much your work shaped me and guided me to my career now. Thank you. Games is dead. Long live Games.