Crossword puzzles are an appealing type of brain teaser/game for many reasons. One of the most critical in my mind, which the original reviewer alludes to, is the sense of satisfaction and pride individuals feel when they succeed. The review states that the perfect puzzle cannot be too easy nor too difficult and this, I think, is because players like to feel as though they’re exercising their thinking muscle without feeling idiotic for not knowing a (likely meaningless) piece of information. The desire to make a puzzle that is the perfect level of difficulty allows for people to enjoy a nice little intelligence ego stroke– they become a member of the “in-group” of people who have these random tidbits of knowledge. I also think one attractive component to the puzzles which the original poster did not mention was the capacity for the puzzles to encourage collaboration BECAUSE of just how varied and random the tidbits of information often are– you never know if your SO or even someone next to you on the subway may know the piece of trivia. In this way, perhaps the puzzle is a bit of a community builder as well.
“The crossword puzzle is one of the most common, frustrating, and rewarding challenges to play. A good crossword must straddle the fine line between too easy and impossible, must have good puns, a good theme, and be interesting. The most famous crossword puzzle in the world is the New York Times crossword puzzle which is edited by renowned puzzle master Will Shortz. Shortz, who also publishes sudokus and KenKens, has become something of a celebrity to those who enjoy trying the daily challenge. I attribute the lasting success of crossword puzzles to its intellectual demand while remaining very simple. Users must rely on knowledge that is drawn from all types of subjects and must use good reasoning and wordplay skills as well. The puzzles are super easy to understand, and the difficulty and overall makeup of the puzzle can drastic so much from day to day that it appeals to all types of people.”