I played every New York Times game for a week

In classrooms across the country, distracted students have found enjoyment in the most unexpected of places: the New York Times (NYT). Specifically, its ever-expanding game section.

The news website, which offers students a free subscription through their Miami University credentials, has seen a surge in its games page’s popularity. In 2023, visits to the NYT Games app exceeded visits to the NYT News app.

For starters, the variety of games on the webpage often take no more than a few minutes to run through, making them an easy distraction for the 75% of student laptop users who admit to using their laptops for non-academic purposes in class.

Additionally, each of the games on the NYT website only allows users to play one daily puzzle at a time, making each puzzle eagerly awaited and something everyone can talk about together on social media. 

As an occasional reader (and one-time Op-Ed contributor) of the NYT, I had yet to extensively explore the Games tab on the website before this semester.

After seeing dozens of my classmates with the Connections or Mini Crossword pulled up on their screens, I couldn’t help but wonder: is the NYT a gaming company now? 

To investigate the new phenomenon, I decided to spend a week playing each of the seven NYT games daily and speak with many diehard NYT Games players with strong opinions. Here’s my ranking: 

Worst Overall: Tiles

The NYT describes Tiles as a “soothing matching game,” which is funny, because that’s about the opposite of how my Tiles experience went.

The game matches tiles in shape, not color, making Tiles an unsightly, chaotic concoction that gives a headache to anyone trying to sort through the madness.

Simply put, there’s better geometry-themed games in the NYT library.

Most Classic: Mini Crossword

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You can’t think of the newspaper without thinking of a crossword puzzle. 

The Mini Crossword is a consistent staple of the game roundup that provides readers with a daily, doable challenge. The “Mini” is more accessible for users who may struggle with larger puzzles. Senior diplomacy and global politics and information systems major Ally Britton-Heitz feels, for this reason, the Mini Crossword reigns supreme.


“I think it is consistently fun,” Britton-Heitz said. “It is never overtly frustrating because you can always go onto another word and come back to one later.”

Most Boring: Spelling Bee

Spelling Bee is a longtime staple of the New York Times games page. This does not mean it is good. 

Spelling Bee challenges readers to formulate as many words as they can given a circle of letters and a central letter that must appear in each word. The algorithm, however, limits readers from selecting three-letter words. 

Are three-letter words not good enough? Am I only smart if I come up with some six-letter word only known to avid dictionary readers?

Although loyal Spelling Bee fans would disagree, I don’t feel this game is all that entertaining. 

Most Rewarding: Connections

In Connections, players sort a four by four grid of words into four unknown categories.

Junior kinesiology major Izzy Storey plays the Connections puzzle daily.

“I get frustrated when the categories are nonsensical or so random, but I love the feeling of figuring it out,” Storey said. “When I can see them match up in my head as I click the words, it is just satisfying when I figure out a category.” 

There are some shortcomings of the game: the inconsistency of the difficulty of each category, some puzzles having multiple solutions with different interpretations of the words, or that guessing incorrectly doesn’t tell you what you’ve done wrong. 

However, I absolutely love the mental challenge, and Connections seems to be the game I always want to do first when I play my New York Times games in the morning.

Most Accessible: Sudoku

I love Sudoku because the knowledge base required to solve Sudoku does not change from game to game, as the Crossword or Connections does. 

All you need to know are the numbers one through 10, making Sudoku a great game to dive into if you aren’t one for trivia or spelling games. 

Most Frustrating: Letter Boxed

To solve a Letter Boxed puzzle, players must connect letters around the perimeter of a square by forming as few words as possible that contain all the letters. 

However, those few words are often words like azurite and erythrocyte, so good luck getting a perfect solution.

Most Underrated: Vertex


The beauty of Vertex is in its simplicity: it is essentially a dot-to-dot that forms a surprise picture at the end.

Plus, the algorithm lets you know you’ve made a mistake by not coloring in the triangle you form if the line is incorrect, making it easy to learn.


Meredith Perkins is a junior double-majoring in diplomacy and English. Her opinion column was the 2023 recipient of the Ohio News Media Association’s Best Column Writing Award and her opinion writing has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer and more. 

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