Over on ihobo today I muse about the similarities between jigsaw puzzles and computer role-playing games. Here's an extract:
While the play mechanics of jigsaws have nothing in common with a cRPG, the two forms of play are related by their reward structures. Computer role-playing games all contain a set of progress mechanics which deliver rewards e.g. levelling up to gain points to assign for advantages, acquiring new equipment to gain advantages and completing side quests which unlock further advantages. A typical cRPG will contain somewhere between 500 and 1,000 rewards (say 50 levels, 500+ items of equipment, 50+ side quests).
Jigsaws typically come in either 500 piece or 1,000 piece versions, and when solving a jigsaw puzzle each piece is a small reward. Initially, the edge pieces can be singled out allowing for rapid progress at the start (like a cRPG) after which a biting point is hit as the main body of the picture must be addressed. Progress is then slow in the second phase but accelerates towards the end of the puzzle as both the number of remaining pieces and the available slots to receive them decreases. This last observation is distinct from the end of a cRPG which invariably terminates with a boss – a super-hard finishing point – while the jigsaw finishes on an exciting rush to the finish.