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20 Things You Didn't Know about Minesweeper

Minesweeper is at its core a video game. If you ask around, you are likely to find that it’s much more than just a game to the people who have grown up playing and still love it today. To be honest, you may not know much about it if you’re from a younger generation. However, those who are 40 or older could probably tell you more about it than you ever really wanted to know. Below are twenty things about this unique game. If you want to know more, all you have to do is keep reading.

1. Many people consider it one of the best puzzle games ever made

This is a video game but it’s also a logic puzzle and a very good one at that. It forces you to use some strategizing and critical thinking skills along the way. If you don’t learn how to do that, you won’t get very far. That means that if you’re looking for something that can take your mind off things for a while, this is one of the best ways to do that. It’s hard to let your mind wander when you have to focus so hard.

2. Most don’t realize just how long it’s been around

Unless you’ve been a fan of the game for decades, you may think that it’s a lot newer than it really is. It was actually developed back in the 1960s and it enjoyed plenty of success even then. During the 1970s it really came into its own and it’s been a fan favorite ever since.

3. It still enjoys a great deal of popularity, especially for a single player game

For the most part, people don’t seem to be so fond of single player games these days. Everybody wants to play the games where they can play against their friends, even when their friends aren’t even in the same state. That being said, there is still a market for single player games that is mostly comprised of people who are old enough to remember what it was like to play them. In this market, the game is still among the most popular titles available.

4. There are actually a number of variations of the game

One of the things that keeps Minesweeper interesting is that there are so many different variations of the game itself. Depending on who actually made the version that you are playing, not to mention when it was made, there are dozens of key differences in the strategy for the game. In addition, the game you play on one operating system is likely to look very different from the one that you end up playing on another.

5. It was originally played on a mainframe computer

If you’re under 40, you might not even know what a mainframe computer is. These are the types of computers that were first used when the technology was being developed. They were large enough to take up an entire room, and often looked (and sounded) a lot more like some types of factory equipment than anything else. These computers were a lot different than the laptop you might be typing on at your desk. Nevertheless, people still like to have fun and one of the ways they went about doing so was to play Minesweeper on these massive machines.

6. It’s experienced the highest form of flattery a number of times

People say that the best form of flattery is to be copied. If that’s the case, then Minesweeper has certainly been flattered a lot throughout the years. This is a game that has probably been copied more than any other video game out there. Many companies changed the name, changed the format just enough to keep from getting into trouble, and then launched their very own version of the game so they too could get in on the craze that was Minesweeper.

7. For years, it was often found as part of a package deal when you buy a new computer

Big software companies wanted in on the action too, and one of the most prominent establishments was Microsoft. For years, they would include the game as part of the package when you would buy a new computer with a Microsoft operating system on it. Even if you merely upgraded your operating system and installed it at home, there was a better than average chance that Minesweeper would be included on there. They did this all the way up until Windows 10, meaning that there are still some computers out there that have the game installed as part of the operating system.

8. Even before smartphones came out, you could still play Minesweeper on your phone

Remember when you felt privileged to have a flip phone that you could carry around with you everywhere you went? If you think really hard, you’ll probably remember that those phones had three or four rudimentary games on them that were already installed when you purchased the phone. Minesweeper was almost always one of them. It definitely gave you something to do while you were waiting for your friends or even trying to kill some time at the end of a long work day.

9. Now you can download the game as an app

If you still want to play the game on your smartphone, you can. All you have to do is download the app that gives you access to it. Of course, the graphics are much better when you are playing the particular variety than they ever were when you played the game on a flip phone.

10. If you’re really into the game, you can play the old fashioned way- on paper

During the height of the game’s popularity, people even figured out how to play it on paper. Remember that these were times when very few people had a computer in their home, so when they heard all the commotion about the game, they had to figure out a way to enjoy it even if they didn’t have access to a computer at the time.

11. The “mines” in the game are computer generated

The whole point of the game is to get rid of the mines without getting blown up in the process. This can be a real challenge because those mines are generated by the computer. In some versions, a certain square is protected but that isn’t the case in every version of the game. That means that you have to develop some real skills when it comes to figuring out which squares are the mines and which ones aren’t.

12. It’s actually based on some pretty complicated math

If you’re thinking that the squares become mines at random, think again. It’s all done using some mathematical equations that are so complicated it would take a professor with a PhD to figure it all out. Nothing is really random when it comes to this game. Instead, everything is handled through complicated algorithms that would make your head spin if you had to deal with them yourself. That proves that there is indeed an actual strategy to the game. The key is learning how to figure it out without driving yourself crazy in the process.

13. This game proves that mathematical engineers can be video game designers, too

Obviously, the people who designed the game were quite talented in the world of mathematics. It just goes to show that there is at least one career field where a math major can actually have some fun. At least that person can create something that other people can have fun with.

14. Most people don’t really care how the mines are strategically determined

To be perfectly honest, the majority of people who play this game would probably prefer not to get in a technical discussion regarding how the game was designed or what exactly went into creating it. For them, it is enough just to play the game and enjoy what they are doing in that very moment. After all, the idea is to have fun not end up feeling like you’re dealing with some type of homework assignment.

15. That being said, some people really do go all out

Of course, there is always one that just has to ruin the fun for everyone else. In this particular case, it’s all about the people who really do want to spend their time analyzing how the game was made and they have to figure out every little detail, no matter how insignificant it might seem. It makes you wonder how someone that thinks in this manner can ever really have fun with anything because they turn absolutely everything into a chore.

16. Today, it’s most commonly associated with Microsoft

This has already been mentioned but it’s worth bringing up one more time. The game might have actually died out with the rest of the video games from the 1960s and 1970s if it hadn't been for just one thing- Microsoft kept it going. You might even go as far as saying that they are the ones responsible for bringing the game into the next generation.

17. Although many think Microsoft developed it, it was around for decades before that

The efforts that Microsoft put forth with the game actually caused many younger people to think that they were the ones who had developed it. As a matter of fact, there are some that will even tell you that it was developed by the company in 1992. That couldn’t be more incorrect. The game was, in fact, developed during the 1960s, as has already been discussed. What most people don’t know is that Microsoft came in and sort of did their own take on it. That will be discussed in the next paragraph.

18. However, Microsoft did make it their own

The connection between Minesweeper and Microsoft did begin in the early 1990s when a group of people who were working for the company at the time decided to take the classic game and spruce it up a bit. They even went as far as purchasing the copyright for the game so they could keep the name the same. They updated the looks of the game and incorporated some cool new graphics. The next thing you know, you had Microsoft Minesweeper and the rest is history. The game has been continuing to grow in popularity over a number of years because Microsoft made the effort to bring it back into the spotlight.

19. It’s not as widely played today as it has been in the past

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and even Microsoft has stopped incorporating the game with its new computers. They do still allow you to purchase it and then download it from a secure site but it hasn't been included as part of the operating system package for a few years now. For the most part, those who still play it are the ones who have been fans of it for years, maybe even decades. However, there are fewer people playing it now than compared with ten years ago. That is even more true when it comes to younger individuals who may not have been exposed to it when they were growing up. They are used to video games that look like movies and frankly, they are bored with a game like this. For the most part, it’s now played by those who remember it from their childhood and want to relive some of those memories from time to time.

20. There are still people who consider it their favorite game of all time

One thing is certain, this is a game that will always be thought of fondly by many individuals who grew up playing it and still enjoy it today. Throughout the decades, it became an iconic part of learning to relax. Perhaps that is why it was always so popular in the first place.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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