I'm putting this in the prophecy forum because I think it is the right place for it, although I'm not really going to discuss prophecy, only the tendency for people to go overboard when it comes to the analysis of Rev 13:18.
Firstly, let me start by reminding people that God does not grant salvation because of one's ability to solve puzzles. 666 is not meant to be a test of one's mental dexterity, otherwise you'd end up with lots of souls who become condemned due to their inability to decipher some sort of hidden code, and lots of undeserving people being granted salvation just because they were smart enough to play around with names and numerology, solve the conundrum and avoid taking the mark.
The concept of 666 is so engrained into Western Christian civilisation that it has become part of folklore. Even non-believers have heard of it. It has become a common theme of horror movies, dramas and novels. Even the rock band Iron Maiden released a hit track and album based around it. For many years now people have tried to solve the puzzle, often by playing around with people's names and substituting numbers for the letters in their names, and other such mumbo-jumbo. Depending what language you use and what method you use, almost anybody's name can come out as 666. This has led to many speculations as to who the forthcoming anti-Christ may be, whether it be Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Elvis Presley or the Queen of England.
I blame this phenomena on the wording of Rev: 13-18 itself:
This calls for wisdom, if anybody has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is a man's number, the number is 666.
or the King James Version:
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
Now as a boy, I could never understand how anybody would fall for this. 666 is so famous that anybody who sees it would run a mile, so naturally I believed what many other people believe, that it would be a trick, a hidden number that wouldn't be obvious and that would require gematria or some other form of code-breaking to solve it. Hence the fashion today for people to try and solve this problem. They are trying to work it out ahead of time and don't want to fall for it. This of course, is nonsense and is an insult to God. Paradise will end up full of problem-solvers, mathematicians, amateur detectives and various other boffins regardless of their faith in Jesus. Anybody who is a loyal Christian, but rather stupid will be thrown into the fire.
It is quite feasible for people to be gullible enough to take the mark even if it is as plain as day. Even if the Beast appears and uses 666 as his own personal emblem, has it tattooed on his forehead and calls his political party the '666 party' it won't make any difference, those who's names are not written into the book of life will still be deceived by him, even if they are familiar with the 666 legend.
Because people can also be fooled by the blatantly obvious, that's why.
Already we have false church leaders telling people that 666 is nothing to worry about, that the Bible has been misinterpreted and that 666 is actually a good number, but has been mistakenly interpreted to be the number of evil. Google 'Jose Luis deJesus Miranda' if you don't believe me.
We also have people who think that Christianity is fake, a religion of the old superstitious days, but now with New-Age thinking we are about to enter a new era of spirituality. It wouldn't surprise me if some people didn't even deliberately use 666 as a logo to show that they are above superstition, and that they refuse to fall for Christian nonsense!
Of course, I'm not saying that this will be the case, all I am trying to say is that when the mystery of 666 is finally revealed, it will be a lot more obvious than a lot of these amateur detectives think and the wise will identify it, because they have an understanding of God. Those who are ungodly, lustful, greedy and sadistic, even if it is obvious to them too, they won't understand the consequences of it, or they will laugh at it.
Solving the riddle of 666 is not that important.
No Christian should be fooled by a false Messiah that sets up camp in Jerusalem, preaches blasphemous things, performs flashy miracles and then forces everybody to take some sort of mark. 666 is just a number, given to us for our benefit as a means of us being certain that a prophecy is being fulfilled. It will not be necessary to spot it. It will be just another clue amongst many.
It's fun to try and work it out ahead of time, but when people start messing around with names. letters and numbers it just gets stupid, even turning to paranoia at times.
I don't believe that we're ready to solve it yet. Closer to the time we will gain a better understanding of it.
It will become one of those "aaah, yes, so that's what it is" moments.