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Enigmida: A Cryptic Welcome

Enigmida: A Cryptic Welcome
By Matthew Stein • Issue #1 • View online
Just over a year ago, I left my full-time job as a software engineer to more seriously pursue my lifelong passion: puzzles. In the time since, I’ve had the privilege of crafting puzzle experiences for thousands of individuals in a broad range of settings, alongside many talented collaborators. As I enter my second year of Enigmida, a newsletter seems like the perfect way to share my journey.
To everyone reading this, thank you for being among the first to support my creative work! This newsletter will include project updates, behind-the-scenes documentation, puzzle design theory, and musings on my other nerd hobbies. If you know anyone who’d be interested in this sort of content, I’d greatly appreciate if you would share this newsletter with them!

Highlights of 2020
Puzzles have the superpower to connect us through shared wonder, exploration, and discovery, and this ability was on full display this past year. It warmed my heart to regularly hear stories of solvers getting closer with friends and loved ones through the shared experience of remote puzzle solving - a much needed light in the vast darkness that was 2020.
As communities old and new regrouped online, immense creativity emerged from our newfound constraints, and with it an unexpected element: joy. Some of my most joyous creations and memories from the year include:
  1. In the spring, I co-designed an intricate puzzle hunt with Sandy Weisz of The Mystery League to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Alinea, a Michelin 3-star Chicago restaurant. A community of over 10,000 tackled 10 puzzles + a meta, all of which are still available here. Sandwich Castle and Word Salad are my favorites.–
  2. I joined the inaugural cohort of the Odyssey Works Experience Design Incubator alongside a dozen other inspirational creators. The creative cross-pollination in this group has filled me with so much energy and hope, and I’m eager to start sharing some of the seeds I planted and discovered.
  3. I joined Room Escape Artist’s Hivemind and have reviewed over 60 remote escape rooms. Remote escape rooms, a recent innovation by necessity, have been a wonderful way to regularly play games with friends around the world.-..
  4. With my friend Emma Liddell, I designed a 2-week Alternate Reality Game for hundreds of Madeon superfans. The game started with a hidden message in a single release and ended with the discovery of a limited-edition secret EP. Summaries of the ARG can be found here and here-.-.
  5. I had the joy of creating personalized puzzle games for many birthdays and an engagement—
  6. My housemates and I started a weekly speakeasy with our neighbors, and we got featured in the SF Chronicle
  7. Precisely one year ago, my MIT Mystery Hunt team came in second place after over 50 hours of intense puzzling. Today, I’ll be reuniting virtually with my teammates for the 2021 Hunt.
  8. Lists. I wrote lots of lists. I like lists!
Coming Soon...
I have not one, not two, but three projects launching soon!
  • Early next week, I’ll be sharing more details about a social justice Passover print-and-play puzzle game.
  • In late January, sales will begin for a puzzle-ful collaboration with Art of Play.
  • And the third one? Well, that’s going to stay a secret for a bit longer!
Cryptically yours,
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Matthew Stein

I'm an Oakland, CA-based puzzle and alternate reality game designer. I create experiences that guide participants to connect through play and to find wonder in the mundane.

In this newsletter, I share behind-the-scenes content, puzzle design thoughts, project updates, and other miscellaneous whimsy I think puzzle lovers will enjoy.

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