Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Puzzling Purpose

I completed my first Sudoku puzzle (pictured above) when I was in Florida this last Christmas. I really enjoyed it, and have completed another 3 since then. But the reason that I'm not really "into it" is because I can't figure out what the point of it is, besides just wasting time and feeling a sense of satisfaction by completing it.

It doesn't use your imagination (like reading). It doesn't increase your vocabulary (like crossword puzzles). Heck, I can even see a benefit to playing some video games, such as role playing or pretending to do something dangerous and adventurous that you wouldn't be able to do in real life (such as a fast driving game or a first person shooter).

Although Sudoku is played with numbers, I don't see how it could improve your math skills, since you're not actually performing any computations with them. Really, the numbers could just as well be random symbols. I even wonder if they use numbers to make you think you're doing something smart. The only brain activity you are performing though is using the process of elimination to determine which numbers go where. So maybe it exercises problem solving skills on some basic remedial level?

So while I do really enjoy it and will probably continue to solve a Sudoku once in a while, the best I can figure is that it's basically a paper version of Pac-Man. Sure it feels good to conquer a level, but all it really accomplishes is letting you get to another one.


karin said...

HEY! Don't take all the fun away for people like me who hate math but firmly believe these puzzles are increasing both my ability and my IQ score!

Susan said...

I started doing Sudoku when I was flying to Jamaica. It seemed to look a little more challenging then the normal word "Fill it ins" If you have done any of the hard or very challenging ones it will almost make you want to give it up. Of course once you figure it out it does give you a very accomplished feeling.

These are some of benefits to doing Sudoku puzzles too – the sort of exercise which the brain gets from logic puzzles can help to stop memory decline, make you smarter and even halt the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. Teachers are even giving simple versions of the puzzles to pupils to help develop their logic skills. For me the biggest benefit is doing them with my step son. He has ADHD and Asperger's disorder. Doing these with him seems to help him with concentration and patience. Plus he thinks it is fun to help me solve them.

michael said...


Thanks for that excellent comment.

On the other hand though, I've played difficult games of FreeCell that have made me want to give up, but that doesn't mean that it's beneficial to my brain. But maybe in some way it is - who knows.

But the other points are still well made, and I really appreciate your thoughtful input.

Jamie said...

Tyler and I like to print 2 of the same game and have a race! Winner gets a massage. That's a good enough reason to do them for me - ahhh a massage! But then Tyler got better than me, now we don't play anymore =)!

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