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The New York Times makes connections through word games

If you are a fellow journalist or a problem-solver you will love this app.
The New York Times Games app has been growing in popularity and making Connections with people all over the world. (Photo property of The New York Times).
The New York Times Games app has been growing in popularity and making ‘Connections’ with people all over the world. (Photo property of The New York Times).

Brain games are in for 2024. That’s right. No more time wasted on apps that draw bored teenagers in with their mindless scrolling and forgettable content. Say goodbye to the mundane and done before media like Candy Crush and Watermelon and say hello to The New York Times Games app. This app proves that you can keep those neural pathways strong and have a good time simultaneously.

This app originally hit cyberspace only featuring my personal favorite game and the one I begin each day with after I snooze my alarm, the Mini. The Mini is a miniature version of the classic NYT crossword puzzle. The best part about this game is that you don’t have to be well-versed in any topic to be successful. You can expect varying questions to answer back-to-back such as the state of frozen water to the name of George Washington’s horse. As soon as you begin, you are being timed. The design of this game is user-friendly and allows you the ability to move at lightning speed if your place on the leaderboard is something you are concerned about.

The leaderboard is an inventive aspect to the Mini; it is a complete game-changer in the sense that you are no longer focusing on improving your own performance, but instead impressing your friends with your widespread, Jeopardy style knowledge and lightning fast typing. You can invite friends, or foes, whoever you are aiming to impress, to join your leaderboard and see your comparative ranking. Warning: this game is likely to ignite friendly fire. 

Once I have warmed up my brain and got the wheels turning and cogs greased with the force of a thousand suns, I am ready to find a comfortable seated position and attempt the day’s Wordle. I am sure Wordle will be familiar with most readers, but if you were unaware of the game during its first popular era, Wordle is a game where you must guess a five letter word within six tries. When a letter is in the word and in the correct space it will reveal itself as green, when the letter is in the word but in the wrong space, it will reveal itself as yellow, and when the letter is not in the word at all, it will reveal itself as gray. Wordle staying popular this year will be on my hypothetical bingo card for 2024 since out of my small circle, it is the game my friends play the most consistently. 

Pro tip: Starting each day’s Wordle with the same word proves to be common between players. I start with the word slate since it contains commonly used vowels and consonants and my friend starts with the word ocean. If you start with a common word or pairing of letters, you will be most likely to score at least one or two green or yellow tiles on your first try, but don’t take my word for it. Wordle is tricky and instead of having you guess commonly used words like fence or waves, they may throw something like annex or adieu to spice things up and drive you to utter madness.

Once I have passed or failed the Wordle, depending on my guessing skills and motivation to try that day, I will inhale a powerful breath that fills me with the confidence of a phoenix rising from the ashes and I trick myself into trying the challenge of Connections. Connections is a game that is not always a walk in the park. This game is a hit or a miss depending on your ability to think creatively and outside-the-box. The premise of this game is that there are four categories and 16 words. These words can be used in a plethora of contexts and it is your job to determine which words belong together to fit a theme. 

As long as one of your themes isn’t a full-in-the-blank sort of situation or something logistical like Latin roots, you should be able to click out of Connections unscathed and only mildly exacerbated. I always save Connections for last because it is the game that deals with the most trial and error, giving you four chances to be incorrect before revealing the categories for you. In my opinion it is the most challenging game and because of that, I enjoy it the most. The only advice I have would be to not be shy and make it everyone else’s problem around you. Getting another person’s point-of-view can give you a chance at victory!

There are several other games included in this free app, including Spelling Bee, a game that tests how many words you can make with seven letters, Letter Boxed, a game of using a square and taking a letter from each side to make a word, Tiles, a visual puzzle, and sudoku, either everyone’s greatest friend or most intimidating enemy; the game of organizing numbers. I have tried all of these games and would give them all a solid rating, but no games bring me more joy than the Mini, Wordle, and Connections.

On a final note, I encourage everyone reading to try these games for yourself and remind everyone you are friends with on social media that you are good at word games, undoubtedly making everyone think you’re smart and want to be your friend. That was satire, of course, but do, privately, share your scores with your friends without the risk of losing followers and make the decision to expand your expertise in every subject out there, helping you to gain a fun new party trick. 

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About the Contributor
Emma Desrosiers
Emma Desrosiers, Assistant Editor-in-Chief
Senior Emma Desrosiers is cordially occupying the position of Assistant Editor-in-Chief for her second year on staff. In her free time, Emma enjoys playing field hockey on her club team, hanging out with her friends and family, and listening to music.

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