March 11, 2019

The Shape of Difficulty @ Hyperallergic

Perhaps I am not the target audience for Bret L. Rothstein’s “fan letter to unruly objects,” The Shape of Difficulty (2019, Penn State University Press), because it presupposes that its reader is under some kind of duress. The introduction begins with a question: “What in the world possessed you to pick up this book?” — implying that the average reader has little tolerance for difficulty as a concept, practice, or area of interest. My instantaneous response to notions of difficulty in the object-space, as defined on the cover by an image of “Hexcopter 12 Curvy,” a kind of interdimensional-looking Rubix Cube designed by David Pitcher, was ooh, goody — which probably says a lot about me, my interests as a critic, and my love of games (and, incidentally, my problems with romantic relationships). I consider difficulty to be an invitation for engagement, and need no argument for its place in cognitive and social space. Rothstein, though, goes on to present a very detailed and eloquent argument in his introductory chapter: “What We Talk About When We Talk About Difficulty,” which paves the way for the ideas and objects to follow. Bret, please, you had me at the three-page glossary of descriptive game-theory vocabulary. Burrs! Decomposability! Multicursal! Tetromino!

Read more here…

A Book Attempts to Solve the Joys and Mysteries of Puzzles

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