One of the questions we all are asking ourselves is: “Will puzzles, games, and other newly popular toys and games remain in demand after the pandemic is over?” I have been thinking about that question, and the answer may well be “yes.”
Many of us who have been cooped up at home over the last year have acquired new habits. Two of those are puzzles and tabletop games. Puzzles and games are more than vehicles for passing the time. They provide the solace that comes with completing something. The pandemic appears to us as an open-ended problem without a perceivable or foreseeable conclusion. Games, however, are finite. There is a beginning, an ending, and a winner. Puzzles offer a way to solve a problem. We can’t solve the pandemic problem, but we can put that 1000 piece puzzle together and, when finished, have a tangible result.
This last year is not the first time that new habits have resulted from staying at home. Consider this CNN article by Saba Hemedy: “The Great Depression led to many of the hobbies we enjoy now. The pandemic created a whole host of new ones.” Ms. Hemedy points out that stamp collecting and bridge became popular during the depression because, with no jobs, people had time on their hands. They acquired new habits.
I did a little research of my own using the Google Books Ngram Viewer. The Ngram viewer provides the frequency of word usage by year. The frequency of word usage for puzzles and games would indicate how top of mind those pastimes were.
I ran the Ngram viewer for “puzzles,” and “games,” and below is what I found. In both cases, the good news is that not only did the frequency pick up, but it continued to grow right up to the 20th century.
Based upon these findings, the passion for games and puzzles, fanned by the pandemic, may well be with us for a long time to come.