Blindfold Cryptogram – how hard is it?

I met Doug Wakefield about a year ago when I was in Boston, and he was telling me how much he enjoyed playing Blindfold Racer. Doug’s career includes helping many companies ensure their products or services are accessible.  Doug wanted an entire series of action games, such as boating, flying, and racing. But he also missed solving cryptograms.


A cryptogram is a quote by a famous person, where there the quote is encrypted by simple letter substitution. For example, the letter “A” can be represented by the letter “C”, the letter “B” by the letter “X”, and so on. The phrase “Hello there” could be encrypted as “Asttq uasps”, where “a” means “h”, “s” means “e”, “t” means “l”, “q” means “o”, “u” means “t”, and “p” means “r”.

To solve a cryptogram, you first find the most common letters in the encrypted quote. For example, the letter “e” occurs often in words. In the above example, it occurred 3 times. In the encryption, the letter “s” occurs three times, so if you were trying to solve that cryptogram, there’s a pretty good change the letter “s” translates as the letter “e”.

Using the frequency of letters, and trying to solve the short words before the long words, you can eventually figure out the entire cryptogram.

Doug’s idea for Blindfold Cryptogram would allow him to flick left and right through the cryptogram, and be able to hear both the encrypted letters, as well as the portions that he had already decoded.

We based the app on the 9 by 9 Sudoku game that we had already built with Judy Dixon, and found about 100 popular quotes by people such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandala.

The hardest part of building this game was making it clear whether you were hearing the encrypted version or your decoded version. We solved that by speaking the encrypted version in a man’s voice, and your decoded version in a woman’s voice. We also created gestures so you could hear either the letters, or each word that you’ve translated. That helps because as you get closer to the solution, you start to recognize which words must be in the quote for it to make sense.



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