Free Swag Mystery Bag

Crossword: Character Study

Character Study

Complete this crossword and tell us, “Who came first?”

By John Teti • November 8, 2012

It’s been a while since we dipped into the Free Swag Mystery Bag, but with the holiday release season upon us, PR companies are sending me a lot of useless crap, and it’s becoming a fire hazard, so I need to get rid of it. By which I mean to say: Here is a fun contest where you can win amazing prizes!

Okay, that’s a half-lie. But the contest really is fun. It’s a video game-themed crossword put together for The Gameological Society by leading crossword constructor Brendan Emmett Quigley. My favorite constructor, Quigley’s work appears often in The New York Times and many other newspapers. He also posts excellent free puzzles twice a week on his website, which is awfully swell of him.

Now, on to the contest. First, solve the crossword puzzle. As you fill in the grid, you will notice a theme emerging. Take note of this theme, because you’ll need it to answer this all-important question: “Who came first?” Send an email with your answer and your mailing address to Three readers with the correct answer will be chosen at random to receive a pick from the Free Swag Mystery Bag. (And no spoilers in the comments, please.)

As far as downloading the puzzle goes, you’ve got a few options:

Or you can solve the puzzle right here in your internet web browser, using the 1990s magic of Java:

What will your prize be? It could be a promotional color-your-own ModNation Racers car, complete with markers, stickers, and personalize-able figurine!

ModNation Racers car

It could be a pair of men’s size 10 Crysis II sneakers!

Crysis shoes

It could be this Quantum Conundrum T-shirt!

Quantum Conundrum T-shirt

Or something else from our enormous pile of game swag. We’ll surprise you. Good luck!

Rules: Entries must be received by Nov. 14, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time. Winners will be chosen at random. We will not save email addresses or use them for anything other than contacting the winners. Employees of Onion Inc. and their families are not eligible. U.S. or Canada addresses only, sorry.

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  • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

    Hell yess. I love the fun contests you all come up with. Crosswords are neato.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    Oh, Teti.  You look increasingly disenfranchised with your own swag as the photo series continues.
       If you can’t feign enthusiasm over an XXL Quantum Conundrum promotional tee, I’m not sure if game journalism is the career for you.
       I only met the esteemed Mr. Quigley once, at a Crossword convention in a Reno Sheraton, but we didn’t get a chance to talk.  He was hastily making his way to the daiquiri bar with Will Shortz’ then-wife and seemed less than eager for any extra attention. 

    • HobbesMkii

       Yeah, judging by Teti’s happiness level in those pictures, there seems to be only one decent choice, but the truth of the matter is I could use a new pair of sneakers conveniently in my size.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        …And we could stand to be a two-car family…

    • caspiancomic

       I think that picture of Teti holding up the shirt, narrowly feigning the bare minimum amount of liveliness a photo shoot requires, is probably like in my top 5 favourite things I’ve seen on this site.

  • Cloks

    The Java thing has the ability to reveal all the answers. Is that intentional?

    • John Teti

      Yeah, I want people to be able to check their answers, and in order to do that, you have to present the crossword file “unlocked.” I figure most Gameological readers are interested in the fun and challenge of solving a puzzle, so the system is set up to be gracious to honest folks. As for the prospect that someone will cheat themselves out of that fun in order to more quickly acquire a small chance at comically worthless video game swag, well, that’s just too depressing for me to spend much time worrying about it.

      • CNightwing

        Your Javamancy does not work on my Chromium body!

        You know, if you wanted a regular crossword feature, I used to write them in college. Cryptic, of course, which doesn’t seem to be popular in the US for some reason.

        • Chris Ingersoll

          Your Javamancy does not work on my Chromium body!

          I’m not seeing it in my fiery fox, either. :(

      • Girard

        That reminds me of the sentiment w/r/t to the tournament of video game treasures, which was along the lines of “Don’t stuff the ballot box, because it’s not fair. And because, my God, you would be stuffing the ballot box in a tournament of video game treasures.”

        ::Quietly cries, and regrets not stuffing the ballot box for the Protoman shield::

      • George_Liquor

        Comically worthless treasures are the best kind of treasures!

  • Enkidum

    Do you ever not wear a tie? You’re supposed to be all Economy 2.0 and sticking it to the man by making millions off of pictures of cats or whatever, while sitting around in your underwear.

    Anyways, this’ll prevent me from working for a while!

    •,96925/ Merve

      Teti only wears a tie for photoshoots. The rest of the time, he wears that Quantum Conundrum t-shirt.

      • Girard

         That’s why he’s so sad that it’s up for grabs, I guess.

        •,96925/ Merve

          He might even exercise in it before shipping it off to the winner.

  • Aaron Riccio

    I love Quigley’s puzzles and am somewhat of a crossword fiend (pun intended); never expected to see his stuff appear here on the Gameological site (although I should’ve, considering that he’s been doing A.V. Club puzzles . . . which I hear are sadly not long for this world), but am now very excited. It’s the best of both of the worlds I obsess over!

  • caspiancomic

    Man, whenever I hear someone speak lucidly about engines or wine or tweed, I always get crazy jealous, and now I know it’s possible to have cool opinions about crossword puzzle writers!? I want to be cool too!

    • Electric Dragon

      This Quigley guy’s no Araucaria, I’ll say that much.

      • HobbesMkii

        Will Shortz or GTFO. 

        • Chum Joely

          Is he the one who does NY Times Sunday puzzles (among others)?

          I like Frank W. Lewis, who does them (or used to?) for The Nation? Those were so bizarre. The clues were ridiculously obscure– sort of like the standard hints to tell you “this answer will be an abbreviation/a pun/etc.”, but he sort of invented his own vocabulary of hints.  So just figuring out how to apply the hint to the word was a major challenge in itself.

        • HobbesMkii

          @ChumJoely:disqus He’s the NYTimes crossword editor. I’m not sure which days he does. He’s also the puzzle master for NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. And he helped Jon Stewart devise the crossword by which Stewart proposed to his wife.

  • Kilzor

    I would like to say this would be a grand weekly feature.  Maybe next week we can play Triple Triad?  (basically I just want an excuse to talk up and play Triple Triad)

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4

       Ever since that Futurama episode, I’ve always wanted an excuse to say “I come bearing Tri-Ominos!”

  • Staggering Stew Bum

    The Gameological Society — If You Don’t Live In North America: FUCK YOU.

    So is that pitiful selection of pissweak trinkets the best you guys can scrape together? I think you’re withholding the good stuff that you’ve received this year:

    - Lollipop Chainsaw 3/4 size Juliet doll, slightly soiled, with selection of ginger moustache hairs affixed with unknown adhesive.

    - “Guide to including Mass Effect in every single inventory” pamphlet.

    - Incriminating photos sent in unsolicited by reader using pseudonym “Paraclete Pizza”.

    - Allo Darlin’ cassingle, still in plastic wrap.

    - A selection of Scott Jones fanmail from November 2011, written in blood, tears, and other miscellaneous body fluids.

    - Arthur M Gameological III replica smoking jacket.

    - Moth-eaten (and slightly mouldy) vest signed by Drew Toal.

    - “I’m Fucking Awesome. Aren’t I Fucking Awesome?” biography written on back of napkin by Brian Stelter.

    - Strackmeier voice-changer mask.

    - Voucher for Ever Mainard style cut from Hobo Hairdressing.

    - Warfighter promotional replica Stabbernator 3000.

    - Half a box of out of date Honey Nut Cheerios Milk ’N Cereal Bars.

    - Receipt for cash transfer to Bank of Cayman Islands account of J. Teti, from Gearbox software.

    ….and now I’ve run out of bile.

    • Marozeph

      Considering it’s just a “pitiful selection of pissweak trinkets”, you’re pretty damn angry about not getting any.

    • HobbesMkii

       I almost passed out and had to go to the hospital writing my Scott Jones November ’11 fanmail.

      • HobbesMkii

         @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus I was hoping someone would set me up for this, but it didn’t happen so now I have to make this joke myself:

        “Because you wrote it in blood, Hobbes?”

        “Or other miscellaneous body fluids.”

    • Girard

       I send all of my unsolicited incriminating photos to the GS. I believe John Teti will keep them safe.

  • Electric Dragon

    Done. Unfortunately not being in North America I can’t receive any swag, but it was interesting to do an American crossword. They’re a very different style to the UK cryptics I tend to do: lots of very short words, abbreviations are permitted, hugely more cross checking – in this grid, every letter is checked, whereas in a British grid only about half would be checked. No length indicators – so you have to figure out if it’s multiple words. Simple definition only but rather ambiguous clues – “Soccer stadium chant”, for example, was a bit perplexing to start with because “Who Ate All The Pies”, “You’re Going Home In A [Town Name] Ambulance”, and “Who’s The Wanker In The Black” just didn’t fit the blanks at all.

    I’m going to see if I can devise a UK cryptic on a similar theme just so you can see how different they are.

    • Captain Internet

      Cryptic crosswords were a typical a “fun” last day of term lesson topic for some of the English teachers I had. No need for a crossword, let’s see if you can guess the commenter!

      A head-turning smoker has a drag (6)

    • CNightwing

      I’m with you – I don’t get the excessive overlapping of words, or the lack of anagrams and terrible puns.

    • Raging Bear

      Every couple of years ago I get ambitious and try to do a UK crossword. After about an hour, when the still-blank paper is sodden with salty tears of crossword inadequacy, I give it up, having surrendered another portion of my self-worth that I will never truly recover.

      I settle for just enjoying the joke clues from things like The Sunday Format.

      “Scurrilous man stole my kidney (7)”
      “Late night jazz upsets Alan Bennett, we hear (9)”
      “Monsoon tigers fall backwards over greasy spoons (8)”
      “They broke into the flat and messed up all the bees, we hear (10)”
      “Trouser elbow (9)”
      “Belgian chin music (3)”
      “The pope ate all the biscuits. Greedy pope. (7, 1, 5)”

  • Moonside_Malcontent

    I was hoping for some kind of more crossword/Gameological crossover swag, to be honest.  Maybe a shirt with Will Shortz laying waste to Riften with everyone’s favorite treasure, stripped to the waist and covered with woad, crying out with bloodthirsty joy, “17 DOWN. YOU’D HAVE TO BE MAD NOT TO USE…”

  • Kyle O’Reilly

    I want that framed poster you’re standing in front of Teti!

    • HobbesMkii

      Yeah, what is that from?

      • Raging Bear

        It looks distinctly eBoy-ish to me.

        • John Teti

          You are correct sir

        • Raging Bear

          @JohnTeti:disqus And the only reason I know is from playing FixPix after it was in Sawbuck Gamer a couple of years ago. Good ol’ Sawbuck!

  • stakkalee

    That was a fun diversion.  I didn’t bother answering the All-Important Question because I already have too much crap in my house, and I know this swag will just become one more load-bearing support in another pile of crap.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      Yeah, swag, hehe…I didn’t answer either because my apartment is already too full.  Yeah.  Nothing to do with me not being able to answer vague clues based on a “theme”. Nope!

      I kind of suck at crosswords.  Had to Google research 3/4 of the answers anyway.

  • boardgameguy

    seriously, who doesn’t love a crossword?

    •,96925/ Merve

      People who are dead inside.

      • Raging Bear

        Hey, I’m dead inside, and even I love crosswords! It might only be people who are dead outside.

        •,96925/ Merve

          I’m surprised to find out that you’re dead inside. But I guess that “Bear Who Rages Outwardly Because of a Void in His Soul” isn’t such a catchy username.

  • Limeade Youth

    I guess Pong was an egg and not a chicken, so there’s your answer. I’ll just take all the swag then. ;)

    Seriously, kinda cute. The non gamer clues made it a bit easier. There were a few clues that could have been game-a-fied, but that’s a minor quibble.

  • PaganPoet

    I was excited to have solved the puzzle, only to get to the comments and see “14 hours ago” in bold writing, mocking me.

  • Girard

    I know it just means that I’M disgusting, but “coil creator” is the most disgusting thing I’ve read all day.

  • Robert Kern

    I’m just a visitor who came here because BEQ directed his regulars here to do his puzzle.  But the contest is over now, so, please, sir, what is the answer to the meta?

    I went with PacMan, because that was the earliest game I recognized, but I am nagged by the feeling that there may be something in CLOUDCOVER that I, a non-gamer, did not recognize.