Ray Saitz: Online Word Games and Other Distractions

I know for sure that the days are going to get pretty warm, even hot, which means you’re going to be lazing around waiting for the summer activities to start. You can spend time updating your Facebook profile or finding out what Elon Musk is doing with Twitter, but instead you can spend time online challenging your mind, being creative, or discovering interesting places. Here are some activities to consider.

A few months ago, I wrote about the latest internet sensation, a word game called Wordle (https://tinyurl.com/2p92wh9k), which is still free despite being purchased by The New York Times. The object is to deduce a five-letter word in six tries and you can only play once per day. I have become addicted to the game and I make time every day to play it.

However, one of the characteristics of the Internet is that success breeds imitation and soon after finding Worldle, I was informed about Canuckle (https://canucklegame.github.io/canuckle). It’s the exact same concept, but the answer is a word, place, or Canadianism related to Canada, and a fun fact pops up after you play. In fact, I found it more difficult than Wordle.

Then I received an email from Lifehacker, the entertaining and often bizarre online magazine, which featured a slideshow with descriptions of the ten best Wordle alternatives, ranked by difficulty (https://tinyurl.com/yfj3s5na). The Wordle concept has now evolved into variations such as a very simple word arcade game called Wheeldle (https://wheelsrpgs.itch.io/wheeldle), Obstacle (https://www.arkadium.com/games/hurdle) in which you have to solve five-word puzzles, and Waffle (https://wafflegame.net) which is called the Rubik’s Cube of puns. Check out the Lifehacker article and try Antiwordle, (https://www.antiwordle.com) which is apparently impossible to solve.

If you don’t like word games, test your knowledge of geography by identifying countries. World (https://worldle.teuteuf.fr) has the same concept of five tries once a day but you must try to name a country by its outline and various clues. You might be tempted but don’t give in to the urge to use Google Maps as an aid.

Google is known to most people as a search site along with many other utilities such as Maps, Translate and Calendar, but it is also a source of many games and entertainment.

Google encourages its employees to work on personal projects, and more than 1,600 of these high-tech creations are on display at Google Experiments (https://experiments.withgoogle.com/experiments). You can wander through the descriptions for most of the day looking for something interesting, but I suggest that on the main page you click on Collections and go to Chrome Collections which also includes the Chrome Music Lab (https://musiclab.chromeexperiments.com/Experiments).

Here you can experience creating music, images and all kinds of infographics in Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge browser. Try Song Maker, where even I, a non-musician, was able to produce some really great tracks, or so I thought.

Google is also the home of Google Arts and Culture (https://artsandculture.google.com) which is amazing in its diverse treatment of mankind’s creative output. You can explore art from around the world, delve into genres and artists, and use the Museum Explorer to take panoramic tours of hundreds of museums, including the Louvre and MOMA in New York.

However, the Arts and Culture site also offers many fun and interesting games to help you have quality leisure time. On the homepage, click on the word Play at the top and you can immerse yourself in some fun but sometimes quite difficult games, like the cultural crosswords which I found very challenging.

If you plan to travel or want to visit fascinating places virtually, go to 360 Cities (https://www.360cities.net) which contains 360 degree videos and images from many places around the world, including beautiful panoramic photos of Peterborough’s Lift Lock and the Lang Pioneer Village. You can either search for a location or click Explore and use a world map to find where videos or pans are.

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