Puzzle Consulting - What is it?
While most people are familiar with puzzle development, few have heard of Puzzle Consulting. Puzzle Consulting isn't too different from other consulting fields. While the puzzle consultant should have a background in puzzles (preferably developing), he or she has to understand the entire project, from which audience it targets and the message the puzzle carries to the placement and frequency of the puzzles within the medium or proejct.
- Create puzzles & solutions
- Customize puzzles to fit a theme or physical parameters of a medium
- Recommend puzzle type, placement and quantity based on the goals of the product and/or medium
- Review puzzles for appropriateness in content, style, frequency, level of difficulty, and placement in chosen medium
- Review/test puzzles and solution to ensure they work
- Edit or recommend changes to the puzzles to meet the needs of the project
Puzzle Consulting: Is there Really Such a Need?
If you consider how many businesses incorporate puzzles into their products, yes, there is a need. A puzzle developer's job ends with creating the puzzles, solutions, and then testing both to ensure they work. Assessing the viability and appropriateness of a puzzle, as well as knowing what type of puzzle, how many, or even where a puzzle should be placed is where the puzzle consultant comes into play.
Consider how many puzzles are published each year, both online as well as in books, magazines, newspapers and other mediums (DVDs, candy wrappers, advertisements... anywhere you can imagine placing a puzzle). There are a lot of different puzzles in the market, and each has a purpose. Remember the latest puzzle that challenged you? Can you imagine your child, co-worker, parent or grand-parent doing that puzzle? Most likely not all of you would have the same interest or capability to complete that particular puzzle as it was designed for a specific person... you.
Creating Puzzles for Specific Markets and Mediums
To understand why or how a puzzle developer targets a particular group of people or has to customize a puzzle, I'll show you a few examples of how my own puzzle development changes from project to project. The shape puzzles I design for Highlights for Children often involve the use of manipulatives (objects a person can move) and are meant to engage and challenge young children to think in new ways. The crossword puzzles I designed for EA games, on the other hand, had to be designed within specific physical parameters to allow the audience to do the puzzles on their cell phones. The EA crosswords targeted teens and adults, groups who own mobile phones and wanted the challenge of Merv Griffin's tv show Crosswords, but in an on-the-go, interactive medium... the cell phone. Then there are my math puzzle books, All Things Equal and Quadrant Quandaries, which target students (grades 1 - 6), testing and reinforcing their math skills while giving them spatial and word challenges. These are very different from the puzzles I create for Brain Games where the intent is to provide entertainment to their customers and do so in a way that helps those customers challenge and stimulate their mental skills. Of course no two clients - and no two projects! - are alike. With each project comes new challenges and new approaches.
Every puzzle has a target market and is designed for a specific purpose (to engage, entertain, teach and/or challenge). While the puzzle developer must find a way to meet the goal for the target group, the puzzle consultant must assess the product and its target market to determine which puzzles should be used as well as how they should be used. Frequency, placement and puzzle type all impact the overall effect of the puzzles on the product, and ultimately sales.
If you have any questions about my puzzle development or puzzle consulting services, please contact me. I'd be happy to speak with you about your puzzles and target market, and how the two fit together (which is just another way of saying, Every Puzzle has a Solution!).