Disconcertingly, the New York Times obituary looked like fun. It was entitled “Bernice Gordon, Who Toyed With Words, Dies at 101.” After all, the word “toy” was used in the headline and it was about someone who played with words. Intrigued, I began to read it and found that interspersed through the obituary were white boxes in which you could fill in words. The writer, Margalit Fox, had created a gamified obituary and I was intrigued.
Questions went through my mind:
1. Who was Bernice Gordon?
2. Was it appropriate to gamify an obituary?
3. Was it appropriate to gamify an obituary about someone who created games?
4. Was the online version of the obituary interactive?
5. Was there a list of answers?
I read the obituary and then looked up versions of it on Outlook and Firefox. The first paragraph told me who she was but it also contained the first clue: “Bernice Gordon, a self-described ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ who over the last six decades contributed some 150 crossword puzzles to The New York Times, died on Thursday at her home in Philadelphia. She was 101.”
But what letters were supposed to go in the white boxes? I found the answer in the next
paragraph when I read: Mrs. Gordon was The Times’ oldest cruciverbalist, as those who ply her trade are known, and it’s longest-serving. The number of letters was right but what was a cruciverbalist. Spell-check was of no help but a Google search identified the meaning as:
1. A constructor of crosswords.
2. An enthusiast of word games, especially of crosswords.