Laid-off Provo man turns his severance into original game

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PROVO — You will have to excuse Doug Nufer's living room these days. It's now a manufacturing facility, packed with 200,000 cards, 8,000 die and 7,000 shapes.

The Utah County man may have lost his job last spring, but he is about to launch his own take on a Chinese puzzle game.

Tangrams have been around for a long time. The puzzle contains seven flat pieces that can be put together to form different shapes. Children often learn geometry and shapes with them.

Nufer, a laid-off employee at Novell, decided to add a competitive element to the puzzle with a game called Tangram Fury. Using two large triangles, one medium right triangle, two small right triangles, a square and a parallelogram, players race to recreate images from a deck of cards.

Tangram Fury became Nufer's focus when he suddenly found himself out of a job.

“Ronald Reagan was president the last time I was looking for a job,” he said, “so I was intimidated by it.”

Getting laid off wasn't any easier when family and friends started calling.

“I had my picture in the paper, leaving the building pushing the boxes, and it was very embarrassing,” he said. “I decided, I can either be embarrassed by this or let it motivate me.”

The father of five said he wanted to teach his children that when something bad happens “you don’t sit in the corner and cry, but you stand up and try to find something.”

So he put his severance package and his brain to work and came up with Tangram Fury.

“When I was in college it was the Rubik's cube, everybody was playing the Rubik's cube and trying to beat each other on that, and that's what this thing could do, is be the next little college fad.”

Nufer admits it has been a lot of work. He hired out the printing of the cards, the boxes, the foam shapes, but assembled everything himself — tedious work, especially the one die in each game.

“We physically stickered every single die — 1,000 dice, eight sides, 8,000 stickers — trying to keep them straight,” he said. Everything for the game is made in the U.S., most of it in Utah.

Fortunately for Nufer, he landed a new job a few months ago, so Tangram Fury went from being his day job to what he calls a very time consuming hobby, but something he still hopes will be successful — at least the 1,000 games he has produced.

“I’m still hoping to get the game to take off because this is fun. It's a brainchild I had and I'm anxious to see if I can make it work.”

Nufer is officially launching the game on Friday, 11/11/11, and selling it on He knows there are a lot of Tangram puzzles out there, but he believes his idea of making it a competitive game will catch on.

“It’s the competition thing--me trying to beat you, you trying to beat me--that makes it a lot of fun.”



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Sam Penrod


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