Crossword puzzles are one of the most popular word games that people play. They are interesting from a cognitive perspective because they involve two distinct pathways of accessing word information: meaning and orthographics.
I have studied crossword players, and how word games can be used for training. As part of this research, I attended and collected data at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and tested some of the best crossword players in the world.
We have also tested “normal” humans. Below is a video showing a typical novice player solving the same puzzle that an expert solves. Note that the expert is in real-time, but the novice has their play sped up by a factor of 4!
We have also examined how crossword games can help people learn vocabulary, including STEM and second-language. Some relevant publications are below: