Cliff Johnson (game designer)

Cliff Johnson (game designer)
Cliff Johnson, 2006

Cliff Johnson (born 1953) is an American game designer, best known for the early computer puzzle games The Fool's Errand (1987) and 3 in Three (1990). Both games were notable for unique visual puzzles and a metapuzzle structure.



Johnson was born August 14, 1953 in Hanover, New Hampshire, the only child of Norman and Leatrice Johnson. He attended Bristol Eastern High School in Connecticut, which is where he started making Super 8 movies. In 1972, he had jobs "building monsters" for five different amusement parks, and then later he attended University of Southern California's film school, where he became a teaching assistant in animation, and created some of the Monty Pythonesque animations for Nickelodeon's television series Out of Control.

In 1984, using his first computer, a 512 KiB so-called "Fat" Mac, he learned to program, and created his first game, The Fool's Errand, which in 1987 won "Best Puzzle Game of the Year" from GAMES Magazine, and was declared "Best Retro Game Ever" by British GamesTM magazine.

From 1990-1995, he directed the *FunHouse* production group for Philips Media, and from 1996-2001, he consulted with Mattel, Warner Bros. and Disney for online puzzles and treasure hunts.

In 2002, Johnson designed the $100,000 Challenge for the book Mysterious Stranger by street magician David Blaine. It was solved in 2004.

Authored games

Other contributed works

  • Game Design: Disney's The Hunt for the Lost Toy, website contest, 1996
  • Game Design: Of Light and Darkness: The Prophecy, 1998 [1]
  • Treasure Hunt Design: David Blaine's Mysterious Stranger book, 2002


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