Will there be another puzzle craze after sudoku?
Perhaps kakuro? What about nurikabe?
If so, chances are it will spring from a Japanese company called Nikoli, run by the self-proclaimed godfather of sudoku, Maki Kaji.
Few Americans had ever thought of Japan as a source for puzzles until a little more than two years ago, when sudoku suddenly took the nation by storm, flooding airport gift shops, and even rivaling crosswords in popularity.
Now Nikoli, which publishes puzzle magazines and books, is widely regarded as the world’s most prolific wellspring of logic games and brainteasers.
Nikoli’s secret, Mr. Kaji says, lies in a kind of democratization of puzzle invention. The company itself does not actually create many new puzzles, instead Nikoli provides a forum for testing and perfecting them. About 50,000 readers of its main magazine submit ideas; the most promising are then printed by Nikoli to seek approval and feedback from other readers.
That process allows Nikoli to tap into the insatiable urge of Japanese puzzle solvers to tinker and improve.
While no one knows how much revenue is generated by the global sudoku business, most agree it has easily topped $250 million over the last two years from an estimated 80 million devotees.
Photo by Wikipedia.
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