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High-Tech Novice Turns Into Game Designer

Utah woman creates brain teasers for iPad

Put a pencil in Pamela Jensen's hand, and she doodles away.

"Ever since I was a little girl, I drew all the time," says Jensen, 66, of Grantsville, Utah. "I even got in trouble for coloring on the walls."

Now, Jensen's doodles are paying off. The mother of three and grandmother of nine recently designed games for the iPad, which are now available through the Apple app store.

See also: Free online games.

Jensen earns 20 cents for every download of her Muddles game, which comprises 25 brain teasers for 99 cents. Muddles features topics such as Roman numerals, squares and square roots, birthstones and the solar system.

Whether the games call for naming U.S. presidents in order or books in the Bible, "they have educational value," Jensen says. "You might actually learn something besides having fun." Also, "they are competitive. You can compete with yourself or with somebody else."

Pamela Jenson with muddles, the iPad game she designed.

Pamela Jenson with Muddles, the iPad game she designed. — Photo by Michael Friberg

A tech novice

Until recently, Jensen had no idea what an iPad was. She describes herself as very "old school," a person who avoids the Internet, considers email impersonal and sends letters via snail mail. She just got a cellphone a few months ago and figured out how to send text messages.

"I'm not into this century," she admits. "But I would like to try."

Now, she's saving up the proceeds from the game sales to buy an iPad. A steady flow of Muddles customers — amounting to 10 or 20 purchases per day — is edging her closer to that goal.

Jensen continues to work on game ideas, which she says randomly pop into her head. It usually takes one evening, sometimes two, to devise a brain teaser. "I'm curious about the things most people aren't curious about," she explains. "Most people think with their brain, and I kind of think with my hand — drawing."

The concept of Muddles began when her son, Steven, 41, asked for a game to occupy his mind on business trips to China. Crosswords in airline magazines already had answers from previous passengers, and he preferred puzzles that didn't require a pen or pencil.

So Jensen got busy creating. She showed the games to the parents of her tech-savvy nephew, Justin John Sullivan, and the couple shared the collection of puzzles with him.

Next: Jensen's foray into high-tech games is a departure from her quiet life. >>

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