It’s OK to Hate Puzzles

We all grew up getting a random mix of games and puzzles.  Some games got called puzzles, and some games didn’t.  But criteria for “when is it a game, and when is it a puzzle” has never really been established.  I hear some people say that puzzles are “games that make you think”, but I think all games should make you think.  So what is a puzzle, really?

So firstly, let me tell you about MY proposed definition for “puzzle”.  I know, I’m not going to change the English language, and that’s not my goal.  My goal is to have clear concepts for myself and other people who care about understanding the medium of games better.  If you want to make up a new word to refer to the concept I’m about to describe, please feel free.

Breaking it Down

So, we start with interactive systems.  These are all different types of interactive systems.  Microsoft Flight Simulator, or Garry’s Mod, or even Minecraft, is a bare interactive system (assuming no house-rules or special “scenario” that includes a goal / competition is in effect).  Some call these things “sandboxes”.  They can also be described as “toys” (although toys has the connotation of being ‘for children’;  for our purposes, please ignore that).

Add a solution to the interactive system, and you get a puzzle.  Examples would be sudoku, Braid, a Portal level, a dungeon in Zelda, jigsaw puzzles.

Add competition to the puzzle, and you get a contest.  Weightlifting contests, hot-dog eating contests, Guitar Hero, Whack-A-Mole, Candyland, horse-shoesContests are a pure measurement of who has bigger muscles, faster reactions, better luck, or has something more completely memorized.

Add ambiguous decision-making to the contest, and you finally have a GAME.  Games are puzzles, and games are contests, but they also have ambiguous, endogenously-meaningful decision-making, which changes their nature vastly.  Even if you win in a game, you can question your moves.  Was that really the right move?  Sure, it worked, but could there have been an even better move?

Again, these are prescriptive definitions.  I know the dictionary says otherwise, especially with “game” (which it defines as “an amusement or pastime”).  These are proposed useful definitions.

And I Hate Puzzles

I hate puzzles.  I only recently – in the last year – have been able to actually verbalize this, although I always felt it, even as a child.  I remember trudging through the dungeons of Ocarina of Time, just forcing myself to do it, because I felt like I was supposed to, but also because I was taken in by the presentation and world.  But the actual dungeon?  If there was a “beat dungeon immediately” button, I’d have pressed it every single time.

Why do I hate puzzles?

1.  I don’t matter.  It’s either I have the solution, or I don’t.  It doesn’t matter that I am a unique snowflake and my personality is such and such and I’m creative and I have all these ideas.  The puzzle doesn’t give a shit.  Tell the puzzle THE correct answer, or GTFO.

2.  They are quickly exhausted.  You learn the solution and it’s all over – there is absolutely no more excitement to be had.  Gotta go buy a new puzzle!

3.  There are so goddamn MANY of them!  Puzzles are a thousand times easier to make than a game.  A good game is a system – one, single system, that has to stay interesting for months or hopefully years.  Puzzles are dependent on simply feeding new content into them – it can be thin, cheap, crappy content – doesn’t matter.  Puzzles are all about QUANTITY, which is why they work so well in a daily format, like the NYT Crossword or Sudoku puzzles.

Point 1 is really the most important one, for me.  I just feel an overwhelming sense of “who cares”.  I feel like this character from some science-fiction short story I read ages ago wherein the main character finds out that his “bolt-tightening job” is a total farce (at night, another crew comes in and just un-tightens the bolts)(EDIT:  I think I found the name of the story:  “The Good Work” by Theodore Thomas).  I feel like I am just doing chores – doing exactly what someone told me to do.  Who knows, maybe I hate puzzles because I have a problem with authority.  In a way, they are a fore-gone conclusion.

It should also be said that I dislike contests, although not as strongly as puzzles.  Firstly, they aren’t actually nearly as numerous in digital games, and when they are, they at least have the good sense to let me listen to some Led Zeppelin or play with a fake plastic guitar controller.  They know that I have to be at least a little bit distracted from the mindless activity that I’m doing, or else I won’t do it.

 

I Want More “Games” to Be Games

My experience of “looking up what’s new in games” goes a lot like this:  Find a game.  Oh, cool, nice art.  Let’s see what the gameplay is like.  Oh.  Puzzle platformer.  Oh.  Physics puzzle.  Oh.  Art-puzzle.  Over and over again, I’m burned in my search for games.

At the time, The Lost Vikings was novel.

The worst is when something that, by design really is a game, but accidentally becomes a puzzle.  Like Advance Wars’ single-player campaign.  Now, some of the missions are so easy that you can kind of screw around, and it’s arguable that they are games.  But when they get hard, they become puzzles.  There is one single solution that you have to do or else you’ll lose.  In fact, the very last mission of Days of Ruin is such that if you don’t follow a very very specific list of precise moves, it’s impossible to win.  I tried to beat that level for weeks before finally looking up “the solution”.

It’s also worth mentioning that any single-player videogame that has no random elements is almost certainly going to become, inadvertently, a puzzle.  I have level 1 of Super Mario Brothers completely solved.

Another funny moment in “WHAT THE HELL IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GAMES AND PUZZLES” history was the release of a cooperative mode in Portal 2.  This was great, because it really shined the light on what I’ve been talking about.  Many complained that, if they had already beaten the cooperative mode, and they tried to do it with someone else, they just had to stand around while the other person tried to figure it out.  Ridiculous.

And by the way, Tetris is a game, not a puzzle.  Since it’s random, there’s no single “solution” to Tetris (at least, not one that 99% of millions of players have been able to discover in 20 years of playing).  Play of Tetris is about making ambiguous decisions, attempting strategies, pushing your luck.  Yet we call it a puzzle… because it has pieces that look somewhat jigsaw-like and fit together?

 

"Pieces Fit Together Like Jigsaw" does not mean "It's A Puzzle!"

I Can’t Be The Only One

Since I realized and started to vocalize my true feelings towards puzzles, I’ve been met mostly with disagreement.  I know there must be other people out there who, like me, find puzzles a chore.  Is it possible that there are a lot of people who feel now, the way I used to feel, and hate puzzles, but haven’t really grasped that yet?  Do you hate puzzles?  Look deep into your heart – ask yourself, are you really enjoying yourself when solving a puzzle?

I’m sure many people actually, sincerely LOVE puzzles.  But I think that if those of us who don’t love them speak up and make ourselves heard, we can have developers and marketers doing a better job of drawing the line for us.  That would only mean more games for us, and more puzzles for those who like puzzles.

  • sheep
  • Darren Grey

    Wow, I’m not alone! I hate it when games include arbitrary puzzles. There’s the special block pushing level, or the monotonous boss fight where you must perform a sequence of actions in exactly the right way. So bloody dull! It’s especially bad when it juxtaposes with other elements of the game. Roguelikes are awful when they have forced puzzle bits thrown in, since it jars so badly with the lovely procedural content.

    Overall anything that can be solved by reading a straight guide is bad in my books. One should be required to use intelligence and understanding to overcome an obstacle, not following instructions by rote.

    I did enjoy the Portal games though. Exactly once.

    • http://www.dinofarmgames.com keithburgun

      I enjoyed Portal, but because of the narrative and world, and probably a little bit because of the hype and the spectacle of the portals. Also: it was short.

      Portal 2 started to feel more like a regular game where I just have to trudge through it. Again, good narrative and stuff, plus it’s Valve so I felt compelled to continue, but overall did I really have *fun*? I think the answer is no, for me.

  • Matt Kloth

    Yes, I hate puzzles too. Far to many games are full of puzzles and/or dexterity contests. I enjoy reading the progress of you refining your ideas. I don’t think you’ll ever win the definition battle, but I look forward to being able to use the stronger arguments you’re verbalizing.

    • http://www.dinofarmgames.com keithburgun

      They are prescriptive definitions to help people get a better grasp on a few concepts surrounding games. Not trying to change the dictionary definition.

  • Mike

    I like puzzles a whole lot but I can’t come back to them. As you implied in your article, puzzles are meant to be consumed unlike a game which is something that can be played over and over again. Though I’ve never acquired a taste for roguelikes I always find myself coming back to great games like God Hand time and time again.

  • Dan

    Another great analysis of a commonly abused trope.

    “…when they get hard, they become puzzles. There is one single solution that you have to do or else you’ll lose.”

    This is one of my pet peeves. Artificially increasing difficulty by arbitrarily limiting player options is instant design fail, in my book. Its doubly bad in strategy games – forcing the player to guess a specific predetermined sequence of actions and punishing them for trying to think of their own strategy, what point is there in them playing the game in the first place? It also means that everything they’ve been taught throughout the game was ultimately a lie, because everything they were required to do in order to progress is now wrong – its like replacing the final boss fight in Street Fighter with a sudoku. (although Street Fighter bosses are such cheap bastards, they kinda fall into the same category anyway – perhaps not the best example :P )

    “…any single-player videogame that has no random elements is almost certainly going to become, inadvertently, a puzzle.”

    This, on the other hand, I feel inclined to disagree with somewhat. While level 1 of Super Mario may be ‘solved’, at best it is only an optimal solution, not the *only* solution – a distinction that I think is important. There are numerous play styles that can result in success, with plenty of room for player expression: Do you kill every Koopa and Goomba along the way, or jump past them wherever possible? Do you take the main path, or use warp pipes every time? Do you try to finish the levels as fast as possible or slow and carefully? This is arguably part of its ‘fun’ – there is plenty of room to learn the secret clockwork for those seeking to challenge themselves, but if you just want to jump around or incinerate every enemy with the fire flower, you’re free to do that too.

    All the player’s options remain intact, thus their decisions are still valid in so far as that they are not punished for not playing the game a specific way (“There is one single solution that you have to do or else you’ll lose”), so I’m not sure its entirely correct to call such games puzzles.

    • http://www.dinofarmgames.com keithburgun

      Artificially increasing difficulty by arbitrarily limiting player options is instant design fail, in my book.

      I think I agree with what you mean, but this statement sounds a little weird because all game design is is creating sets of “arbitrary limitations” on “player options”… also known as rules! But I think that that’s not what you meant.

      >Do you kill every Koopa and Goomba along the way, or jump past them wherever possible?

      If it doesn’t change the outcome, who cares? Same with warp pipes. A problem with Super Mario Brothers and many other video games is that they have a flat goal: get to the end. Score isn’t really considered or a well-implemented feature and so nobody plays them for score (if they even have such a feature). If you get to the end with warp pipes, or without, it changes nothing about the end state.

  • Dan

    “…also known as rules! But I think that that’s not what you meant.”

    Ha ha yes, very true! :P I meant more that removing options that have been available, and even impressed upon the player, to the point where the gameplay is severely altered without warning or explanation. (ie: arbitrarily removing the freedom to create your own method of approaching a scenario, when the entire game has been about teaching you how to create your own method of approaching a scenario)

    Hmm… I know what I mean, but I’m finding its rather difficult to express >:( I guess I mean (to use your definitions) “when a ‘game’ is turned into a ‘puzzle’ while still presenting itself as the ‘game’ it has been all along”. (ie: you’re led to believe you have options, when you actually don’t) Or, “don’t teach the player a bunch of rules, then change those rules while letting the player believe the previous rules are still in effect”?

    Perhaps “changing the rules without informing the player is bad, doing so intentionally with the intent to impede player progress is worse.”

    Its funny – its such a simple concept in my head, yet it appears to be surprisingly tricky to put into words…

    “If it doesn’t change the outcome, who cares?”

    I guess perhaps here we have a difference in philosophy? The way I see it, you are free to make your own way through, using whatever skills you have (or wish to use) – while the end result may not change, the experience of getting there can be markedly different for each player. To me, a ‘puzzle’ suggests only a single solution – only one valid sequence of actions, with all others resulting in failure. I’m not convinced that Mario falls into this category. The same could be said of Pacman, where there are known patterns that the player can follow that will always result in success. Does that mean that freeform play is meaningless? Irrespective of that, what about the risk/reward element that goes with the decisions?

    I guess we’re treading into the somewhat hazardous area of ‘fun’… When playing Mario games, I like to explore nooks and crannies for secret rooms or hidden powerups. When my daughter plays them, she doesn’t care about such things, she just always wants to have a helicopter hat and a Yoshi because those things make the game less daunting. (I suppose in that regard, it could be said that different choices do have the potential to change the outcome, if those choices increase or decrease the likelihood of dying rather than reaching the end? Do you consider decisions that increase or decrease risk to have worth? Or do you consider the lack of reward to balance those decisions render them moot?) Different priorities, different experiences, yet both enjoyable for the players, and both valid paths to success – the game places no limitations on the options it offers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Mario games are the ‘best gaems evar!1!’ (and these days, Mario games aren’t even the best *Mario* games ever), but I’ve always found them to be enjoyable and fun, for the most part.

    I guess this a ‘the journey, not the destination’ scenario?

    Of course, its also entirely possible I’ve misunderstood the point of what you were trying to say (certainly wouldn’t be the first time) and rambled off into irrelevance (also not the first time… -_-).

    Either way, I find your analysis and insights a breath of fresh air – don’t stop challenging industry norms, trends, and assumptions! :)

  • Miroslav

    Given your definition (which is basically a test with a single solution), lots of proper video games would fall in the ‘puzzle’ category.

    And yet, lots of these games are more fun than tetris ever was.

    Some points I totally disagree with you:

    1. If a game is solved it’s boring.

    No it is not. You can still solve it on your own. Also note that games based on reactions cannot be solved.

    2. If you don’t play your game for years or months, it’s a bad game.

    No, again, it is not. Unlike games like Chess and Go, video games generally survive as franchises, and there is particularly nothing wrong about that. In fact, it’s much better.

    That said, I agree that:

    1. Having multiple solutions is more fun than having single solution
    2. Unclear payoffs are more fun than clear payoffs

  • http://www.ruleofcool.com/ Bucky

    I disagree with your definitions because of what happens when a designer approaches the boundary from the puzzle side.

    It holds up fine when the puzzle has two solutions, or ten. But if it has thousands, which category is it in? If I can hand the same puzzle to four different players and get four solutions that work on different principles (variety), and can tell by the style of the solution which player made which solution (creativity), is it suddenly a game or is it still a elaborate, flexible puzzle?

    • http://www.dinofarmgames.com keithburgun

      If the objective is “Solve”, it’s a puzzle. If the objective is “Win”, it’s a contest (or possibly a game).

      • http://unspoiledcrawling.wordpress.com/ Bucky

        Allow me to rephrase that last sentence then.

        If I can hand the same level to four different players and all four beat it in very different ways, and I can tell from the recordings which player was which, is it suddenly a game or is it still a elaborate, flexible puzzle?

        Conversely, when talking about Roguelikes, I use the term “Solve” to mean “find an overall strategy that is capable of beating the game” even though there are plenty of ambiguous decisions along the way. (Solving a Roguelike is different from winning one.)

        • http://www.dinofarmgames.com keithburgun

          >If I can hand the same level to four different players and all four beat it in very different ways, and I can tell from the recordings which player was which, is it suddenly a game or is it still a elaborate, flexible puzzle?

          If players were trying to “solve” the system, and all players solutions were equal, then it is not a competition, right? Therefore it is not a contest or a game.

          If the system had some kind of score or something that allowed for competition, then it would become a contest. From there, if it has ambiguous decision making (which, if the “solutions” were already super high in quantity, it could already have), then it’d be a game.

          • http://kevan.org/rubicon Bucky

            What do you call a system with ambiguous decision making but no inherent measure over which to compete?

            • http://www.dinofarmgames.com keithburgun

              By my system adding solutions/problems to an interactive system turns them into a puzzle, so that’s what that would be to me.

              If you want to come up with your own thing that it is, like “ambiguous puzzle” or something, feel free. I think it’s still fundamentally a puzzle, even with lots of solutions.

              • http://unspoiledcrawling.wordpress.com/ Bucky

                (“ambiguous puzzle” will work fine for now.)

                In that case, I don’t think you have a good way of telling ambiguous puzzles from games. Even if an ambiguous puzzle doesn’t contain its own way of ranking solutions, players can come up with their own (e.g. fewest moves taken). Conversely, players can ignore the in-game ranking of a non-endless game, even when such a ranking exists, and simply try to reach the end without an early ‘game over’. I think that once you take the following examples into account, the definition ceases to become useful because of the degree to which they depend on the player.

                1) 100 Rogues (a roguelike with a score): Game
                2) 100 Rogues, hacked so that points are only scored by beating the final boss (or played by someone who ignores the score): Puzzle
                3) Portal, played by a casual player: Puzzle
                4) Portal, played by hardcore speedrunners: Game
                5) Rubic’s Cube from a defined initial state: Puzzle
                6) Rubic’s Cube from a defined initial state, trying to solve it in fewer moves than John who is sitting next to you: Contest (Do you consider rotations to be ambiguous decisions?)
                7) Rubic’s Cube from a defined initial state, in exactly 14 moves (you have been told 14 is the minimum from that position, and John solved it in 15): Puzzle

                • http://www.dinofarmgames.com keithburgun

                  >players can come up with their own (e.g. fewest moves taken).

                  Yeah. But the thing is, when you “come up with your own”, you’re changing what the system is. Those things you come up with, they’re rules. It’s just like saying “tossing a ball to each other is not a game, but you can MAKE it a game by adding a rule that you get a point if X happens and first to Y points wins”.

                  If players come up with their own ADDITIONAL rules such as “fewest moves taken”, they’ve made your ambiguous puzzle INTO a game by adding the element of COMPETITION. Therefore my system totally stands.

                  >>players can ignore the in-game ranking of a non-endless game, even when such a ranking exists, and simply try to reach the end without an early ‘game over’.

                  If players “ignore” any parts of existing rules, they’re doing the same thing – modifying the system and playing a different thing. If you “ignore the thing about goals in soccer” it becomes a totally different thing too.

                  Hardcore speedrunners have changed what the system IS by adding a new rule.

                  You may be getting confused between “what are the rules we are currently agreeing to participate by” (which is all that matters) and “what was the original intended purpose for this thing” (which doesn’t matter at all unless people agreed to play by the originally intended rules).

  • Uthor

    While I don’t have a problem with you disliking puzzles, I do take issue with your definitions. You say that a puzzle with competition is a contest and a contest with decision making is a game. That means that a game is a subset of a puzzle, which is obviously wrong. You contradict that statement when you say Tetris is a game, but not a puzzle. I’d even say that not all contests are puzzles. I don’t see how hot dog eating can have a solution.

    I would propose:
    - Game: Interactivity with a goal (Mario – get to the end, tag – touch the other person, etc).
    - Contest: Interactivity with competition. This would require a victory condition. Tag itself isn’t a contest. Tag with the person who is “it” the least being the winner is a contest. Wanting to win would be a goal, which makes this a game.
    - Puzzle: Interactivity with a single (or finite) solution. Because finding the solution is a goal, this would make it a game.

    Here, all puzzles are games, but not all games are puzzles. Also, all contests are games, but not all games are contests.

    • http://www.dinofarmgames.com keithburgun

      >That means that a game is a subset of a puzzle, which is obviously wrong.

      Huh? Why?

      >You contradict that statement when you say Tetris is a game, but not a puzzle.

      Here’s what you’re missing:

      Interactive System + Problem = Puzzle

      Interactive System + Problem + Competition = Contest

      Interactive System + Problem + Competition + Ambiguous Decisions = Game

      Which of these fit Tetris?

      Tetris is an “interactive system + problem + competition + ambiguous decisions”, NOT an “interactive system + problem”. See?

      Yes, all games include “puzzle”. But that’s like taking a wooden chair, and asking people if it is “wood” or if it is “a chair”.

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  • shot

    Classic games are a simple example where your definitions stop making sense.
    By nature TicTacToe, Checkers and Chess are contest since they pit 2 players against each other. However any child can find optimal solutions to TicTacToe, Checkers has been weakly solved already and it should be pretty easy to show that optimal solutions for Chess, Go and presumably any turn based game exist.
    So what are those then? Puzzles because they can be solved? Contests because they are player vs player? Or are they games because that is what they have been called for hundreds and thousands of years?
    And at what point does a a traditional “puzzle” like TicTacToe or Go become a game? When the number of moves you need to memorize to win optimally exceeds what the average human can remember? When it exceeds what the human brain is able to remember at its full capacity? When it exceeds the memory capabilities of a computer? When the memory necessary exceeds what can be achieved by employing all the atoms in the universe?
    Either limit would be entirely arbitrary and does not give you a valuable definition of when a game stops being a game.

    • http://www.dinofarmgames.com keithburgun

      >By nature TicTacToe, Checkers and Chess are contest since they pit 2 players against each other.

      They are games. TicTacToe is a SOLVED game, and so it becomes basically a puzzle, but if you watch young children play TicTacToe it’s still a game for them. It was meant to be a game. Chess and Checkers are games because they have ambiguous decision-making.

      All games can be solved. Even imperfect information games can be solved using a mixed strategy (based on probabilities are ARE always best moves). When games get solved, they cease to be games because they no longer have ambiguity to them.

      It’s simple. Is there ambiguity to playing it? If so, then it’s a game. If not, it may be a contest or a puzzle. Do you follow?

  • Jared

    Based on Keith’s prescriptive definition of what makes a game a game, a puzzle a puzle, etc; TicTacToe & Go, etc are games because they combine interactive systems, problems (with solutions), competition, & ambiguous decisions. Like he stated above.

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  • Miroslav

    You mentioned Desktop Dungeons somewhere else. So let’s talk about that game for a moment.

    Each map in Desktop Dungeons can be thought of as a single puzzle. However, what makes these puzzles special is that once you attempt to “solve” them they get spoiled. They get spoiled because they are reliant on hidden information, which in the case of Desktop Dungeons is fog. To counter this problem and thus preserve the intended nature of these puzzles, designers introduce a rule that says “each puzzle can only be played once”.

    Now, since such puzzles get exhausted very quickly, one has to either deliver infinite stream of puzzles, which is impossible, or make a compromise and simply add a large enough number of puzzles so that players either don’t get to play all of them, or if they do get to replay them, they don’t realize they have played them before (thus preserving their intended nature).

    The rest is a matter of implementation. You can either hand-craft thousands of puzzles and then randomly pick one in order to serve the player. Or you can procedurally generate them, which is an easier but inferior way to do it.

    Thus, it becomes apparent that:

    1. Puzzles are at the heart of Desktop Dungeons
    2. Games, just like puzzles, are consumable; the catch is that they are harder to consume because they come in a big package
    3. These puzzles get exhausted FASTER than the regular puzzles

    The only difference lies in the fact that these puzzles have HIDDEN INFORMATION, which is what you mean by ambiguity, I suppose. Hidden information makes decisions uncertain because you don’t know what’s going to happen. As a result, they can only be played once, and consequently, they need to be delivered more frequently which is why they often come in a big package that is game rather than separately.

    It also explains why you like randomness.

    • http://www.dinofarmgames.com keithburgun

      How do you determine what is a puzzle, and what is a game? To me DD is definitely squarely a game, not a puzzle. After you answer this I can respond to your post in full.

      • Miroslav

        Well, that’s irrelevant. I’m merely interested in analyzing the relationship between what you call a game and what you call a puzzle. If you take a map out of DD, does it not look like a puzzle to you?

        • http://www.dinofarmgames.com keithburgun

          Okay so we’re using my definitions. In that case, DD is not a puzzle, it’s a game, because it is something you win/lose and it has ambiguous decision-making.

          >If you take a map out of DD, does it not look like a puzzle to you?

          This is irrelevant and misleading. Tetris “looks like” a puzzle, but it is very much a game. Anyway to respond to your first post:

          1. No, Desktop Dungeons is a game, since it is an interactive system + a problem + competition + ambiguous decision-making.

          2. Sure, everything is consumable. All you’re saying is that games are finite, and that’s of course true. However, games are designed *not* to be solved, and puzzles are designed *to* be solved.

          3. “The regular puzzles”? Not sure what you mean here.

          >The only difference lies in the fact that these puzzles have HIDDEN INFORMATION, which is what you mean by ambiguity, I suppose.

          Hidden information is indeed one way to create ambiguity, but not the only way. Go technically has no hidden information (unless you count the plans in the other player’s head, which I don’t consider part of the game itself).

  • Miroslav

    2. Sure, everything is consumable. All you’re saying is that games are finite, and that’s of course true. However, games are designed *not* to be solved, and puzzles are designed *to* be solved.

    No player prefers a game which they cannot master (which is to say “solve”). The point of games is mastery, which is finite. What players prefer, however, is when achieving mastery takes a lot of effort (and consequently a lot of time) — they prefer DIFFICULT games.

    The more difficult the game is, the more difficult to master it is, and thus the more difficult to consume it is. The easier the game is, the easier to master it is, and thus the easier to consume it is.

    This should explain why claims that some games are consumable and some are not are misleading (they are also highly-obscurantist!). What you should be saying instead is that some games are difficult and some games are easy. That’s it — a lot simpler, yet much clearer.

    In other words — players are motivated to master BOTH puzzles and non-puzzles. Puzzles and non-puzzles are also both finite and thus consumable. All that said, you fail to show there is a significant difference between puzzles and non-puzzles.

    In that case, DD is not a puzzle, it’s a game, because it is something you win/lose and it has ambiguous decision-making.

    And what is this thing you call “ambiguous decision-making”? What kind of decision-making is opposite to that sort of decision-making? And what is exactly unambiguous in the decision-making behind Sokoban puzzles? I’ve read all of your articles where you mention this concept and they all fail to clearly establish it.

    Win/lose is vague too.

    Tetris “looks like” a puzzle, but it is very much a game.

    You’re taking my words way too literally. What I wanted to ask you is whether there is any sort of significant difference between, say, DD’s map and Sokoban’s map? From my analyses, there are few distinctions to be made between the two.

    Hidden information is indeed one way to create ambiguity, but not the only way. Go technically has no hidden information (unless you count the plans in the other player’s head, which I don’t consider part of the game itself).

    Go has hidden information which is the opponent’s next move. You can’t tell which move he will play, but you can consider all the possible moves he can play as well as moves that he would definitively want to play etc.