Scott Kim, Puzzles, and Games

Welcome to this week’s Math Munch!

Scott Kim

Meet Scott Kim.  He’s loved puzzles ever since he was a kid, so these days he designs puzzles for a living.  He’s been writing puzzles for Discover Magazine for years in a monthly column called “The Boggler.”  Click that link to look through some of his Boggler archives.  Here’s a cool one he wrote in 2002 about hypercubes and the 4th dimension.


In his 11-minute TED talk, Scott tells the story of his career and shares some of his favorite puzzles, games, and ambigrams.  It’s also completely clear how much he really loves what he does (as do I.)

Knights on Horseback – M.C. Escher

I’ve always loved “figure/ground” images, where the leftover space from one shape creates another recognizable shape.  M.C. Escher created some of the most famous and well-known examples of figure/ground art, but Scott Kim took the idea a step further – making an interactive puzzle game based on the ideas.  Naturally, the game is called “Figure Ground,” and it’s delightfully tricky.  You can even create your own levels.  Scott has a whole page of web games.  Go play!

Symmetrical Alphabet – Ambigram by Scott Kim

Still hungry for more Scott Kim?  He gave a presentation for the Museum of Math‘s lecture series, Math Encounters.  You can watch the full-length video here.  You can also watch an interview he did with Vi Hart by clicking here.

Finally, after you read a Math Munch (or right in the middle) do you ever have a question you wish someone could answer or something you want explained?  Or do you ever wish we could help you find more of something you liked in the post?  Well we can do that!  Just leave a comment on the bottom of the page, and the Math Munch team will be very happy to answer.  We’d love to hear from our readers.

Bon appetit!

14 responses »

  1. Pingback: Martin Gardner, G4G, and Many More Flexagons « Math Munch

  2. Pingback: MoMA, Pop-Up Books, and A Game of Numbers | Math Munch

  3. I tested out the game figure ground and at first I got very frustrated and anooyed that I tried the game 8 times until I got it. The reason is I didn’t know that you could move the pieces on top of each other! Then when I did try it it took me 3 times until I got the pattern I very much enjoyed it even though it was challenging.

  4. I thought this game was very challenging. It frustrated me at first how putting two blocks together made one block. This made the game harder because if you mess up, you have to restart the level again. When I first discovered blocks could be stacked, the game became much easier. It still took me a couple of tries to complete the levels, but I thought this was an enjoyable game.

  5. The game Figure Ground was very challenging and fun. I got to the level where the man was. I was stuck there. I wish you could take the blocks apart instead of restarting every time. Overall the game was great though!

  6. . The game Figure Ground was very fun but difficult because I didn’t know how to play it at first but then I got it. I also have two questions to ask do you think you will make more extravagant games and if you ever want to give this up what do you think you will do. If you get a chance to answer this question I would be honored and Thank You.

  7. Figure Ground was a fun game it was hard but when I got used to it I thought it was easy. I think that its a smart game. So I think other people would like it too.

  8. It took me a while to figure it out and that is what made the game fun and challenging .I Recommend the game to everyone who likes a challenge. 4.5/5

  9. It is interesting how Scott kim defines a puzzle as fun to solve and has a right answer and how the design for the title of his first book upside down spell his name.

  10. I watched Scott Kim’s TED talk video and was very surprised by the amount of ways words an be anagrams. Not only did Scott Kim create anagrams by flipping words upside down but also by mirroring rotating and flipping over. Why does that work? Do the letters have to be a certain way?

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