Covid-19 cancelled Thanksgiving but that doesn’t mean you have to be alone. At the same time, there are probably a lot of you who are a bit relieved to not have to hang out with your weird family. But there’s still a communal-experience-shaped hole in your life. However you’re feeling, there’s a perfect way to waste away your Twilight Zone Turkey Day: Collaborative crossword puzzles on Twitch.
For a few weeks, Sam Von Ehren, a game designer for the New York Times, has been testing out a way for Twitch users to work together to untangle the solutions for classic NYT crosswords. And today, the game made its official debut on the NYTGames Twitch.
It works like other games in the “Twitch Plays” category of streaming: There’s a game being played and users add comments to influence the onscreen action. All you need to know to jump in is “a” means across and “d” means down. So if you want to fill in the 26 across space with the word “arena,” just type “26a arena” into the chat. The game will automatically add your answer to the proper field.
The channel has a calming soundtrack and a blessed absence of trolls. People just want to get these damn crosswords right. Von Ehren is currently shepherding the chat, and has informed users that his next goal is to get a better system for displaying the clues. Speaking with The Verge, Von Ehren said that he intends to keep this round of collaborative crossword-ing going through Black Friday with an eye on shutting it down sometime on Saturday.
NYTGames only has 72 followers, so far. It’s the season of giving, so show ‘em some love.