Puzzles

For my whole life I have been interested in puzzles and games, and in the last few years I have been fortunate enough to turn that passion into a profession. I design all types of puzzles: paper-and-pencil brainteasers, physical/manipulative puzzles, number puzzles, riddles, and all-day scavenger hunts for people to explore.

puzzles My work has been for companies all around the world. Puzzles of mine have appeared in the Perplexcity alternate-reality games (by Mind Candy), in Wired magazine, GAMES magazine, at Lone Shark Games events, in puzzle calendars, on-line treasure hunts, and so forth.

I host annual puzzle parties where many of my initial puzzle ideas are play-tested by very patient friends. Ever so slowly I will detail some of my creations on this page. They illustrate the expansive variety of media and puzzle types with which I have been involved. If you are and individual or company looking for unique puzzles or games for any reason, contact me at eric@ericharshbarger.org.

  • Book. I have a second puzzle-related book published by Sterling Pulishers. This one presents geometric "Dissection Puzzles" for the reader to solve. Available 3 February 2015.
  • Magazine. My three page puzzle "Escape From the Haunted House" appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Will Shortz's Wordplay.
  • Book. I contributed several of my skills to the creations of Mike Selinker's Maze of Games book. I was one of several professional puzzle designers to have a puzzle in the book's "Conundrucopia", and I helped design a glossy puzzle-map, puzzlehunt pencils, and custom cryptexes -- all of which were featured as incentives for various levels of the Kickstarter campaign.
  • Magazine. I helped Mike Selinker design a puzzle for WIRED magazine's 20th anniversary. It was "hidden" on the spines of the twelve printed issues that came out in 2012.
  • Magazine. My Say Cheese! puzzle was included in the list of Top-100 games and puzzles in the December, 2012 issue of GAMES Magazine. This issue also includes a four page article, written by me, about my Go First Dice.
  • Dice. I am the co-inventor/designer of "Go First" Dice, a set of dice that can fairly determine player order in a game without ever rolling ties.
  • Puzzle Hunt. For the fourth year in a row I helped Lone Shark Games design and adminsiter the Puzzle Hunt at GenCon gaming convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Magazine. A quick puzzle involving scytales and morse code appeared in the August 2012 issue of WIRED magazine. I co-designed this puzzle with Mike Selinker.
  • Television. I acted as a puzzle consultant for the BBC program and surround puzzle challenges The Code.
  • Puzzles. Both DIGITS IN A BOX and SAY CHEESE!, puzzles of my invention, are available from the company Popular Playthings.
  • Magazine. A puzzle of mine adorned the March 2011 cover of GAMES magazine.
  • Book. My book of 365 original pentomino puzzles is scehduled for release 5 July 2011.
  • Magazine. Another of my puzzles has appeared in Wired magazine. This link goes to the online version; it also appeared in the December 2010 printed version (p. 88).
  • More ARG puzzles. More of my puzzles are appearing at another blog/website the Lewis Hamilton: Secret Life ARG.
  • Puzzle Hunt. For the second year in a row a puzzle featured in my Spring Puzzle Party served as a basis for that year's Puzzle Hunt at the GenCon gaming convention in Indianapolis. This year it was my palindromes that underlay the challenges.
  • Lexomino Puzzles. An invention of mine where people may create puzzles based on their own name or favorite word(s).
  • Mazes. Lewis Hamilton: Secret Life. The design company responsible for this Alternate Reality Game site asked me to produce some mazes for their blogs (same blog, nine different languages). If you trace out the maze's solution path, you form a telephone number... The mazes were generated by custom software I had written to do this very thing (embed messages into mazes of 2 or more dimensions).
  • Book. 101 Palindrome Puzzles. Plenty of original palindromes created by myself and presented in a clue-hint-answer format. This book was used for one of the puzzles at my Puzzle Marathon II event.
  • Calendar. Mind Benders and Brainteasers Puzzles Page-A-Day Calendar by puzzle master Scott Kim. I contributed several of types of puzzles (wordplay, visual, spatial, number) in the 2010, 2011, and 2012 editions of this calendar.
  • Phone. I develop game ideas for the SMS-puzzle/game company Slooce Technology, Inc.
  • Book. World of Wordcraft, a "choose-your-own-adventure" style of book which I created for my Spring 2009 puzzle party. Available for purchase through Lulu. The book was adapted as a puzzle for attendees at Gen Con 2009.
  • Puzzles. Xi. Working with nDreams I created some of the puzzles for an international puzzle-trail related to "the first ever console Alternate Reality Game."
  • Magazine. This optical illusion puzzle appeared both online and in Wired's May 2009 edition of their print magazine (that issue went on to when the "Single-Topic Issue" NMA award for 2009).
  • Puzzle. "Orientations" (aka, "Self-Referential Panels") my entry in the 2009 Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition; co-designed with Wei-Hwa Huang. This puzzle was also featured at my Spring 2009 puzzle party.
  • Puzzles. On very short notice I worked with Six to Start and developed puzzles for the international treasure hunt focused around the band Muse and their "Ununited Eurasia" project.
  • Puzzles. I contributed some of the brainteasers for The Locked House of Dr. Matrix, a Puzzle Hunt by Wei-Hwa Huang that was occurred at the March 2008 "Gathering for Gardner."
  • Puzzle. Encaged. An interlocking/assembly type puzzle I designed. It is manufactured and sold by the German company Puzzlewood. This puzzle was originally designed for my Spring 2007 puzzle party.
  • Puzzle. Digits In A Box. One of my most popular puzzles. It was my entry in the 2007 Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition. The goal is to fit the ten "digits" into the box and close the lid. You may email me if you are interested in purchasing a set (machined aluminum pieces in a hand-made wooden box). Less expensive plastic versions are available from Popular Playthings (if they are not yet listed on the website, you may call them and ask about the puzzle; the MSRP is $9.99).
  • Magazine. An article of mine appeared in the April 2006 issue of GAMES magazine. It focused on this challenge to readers: for each letter of the alphabet can you think of a word that ends in the letters -BOX?
  • Puzzles. For years I have consulted with the company Mind Candy. During the time that they were producing the "Perplexcity" Alternative Reality Game, I developed many of their puzzle cards that were sold in stores. Online versions of some of these cards are viewable: #40, #47, #65, #72, #102, #136, #148, #149, #161, #165, #172, #173, #174, #178, #196, #198, #199, #200, #230, #236, #237, #242.
  • Puzzle. "Explore", my entry in the 2005 Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition.
  • Award. I was the first-ever recipient of Kadon Enterprises's Annual Pentomino Excellence Award for my "Enclosed Triplets" problem.