Erich Jonas wants people to call him “The Eggman.” Jonas, who lives on reservation land along Flathead Lake in Elmo, is the creator of the Original Egg Game, a hands-on curiosity in which multiple players spin egg-shaped cuts of limestone atop a flat, circular, maximum-density fiber board. The “eggs” come from Pakistan, the board from Columbia Falls mills. The game doesn’t come with a box and has no mechanized parts. Instead, Jonas assembles each game himself, inscribing some with words such as “communicate,” “theorize,” and “cooperate.” He’s been doing this for 10 years now, but sales didn’t really take off until last year, when Jonas says he sold approximately 1,000 egg games, mostly at education trade shows.
The record spin-time belongs to a California special-education classroom where Jonas says students kept a limestone egg spinning for four hours.
“It’s a peace game,” says Jonas, “the idea being that each egg is representative of the planet, and to simply work together to figure out how to keep an egg spinning is a powerful metaphor.”
Peace is a subject close to the heart of the game’s inventor. A Gulf War veteran who boarded and searched vessels for weapons on the Sinai Peninsula in 1990, The Eggman returned to the U.S. hoping to become “part of the solution.” Today, he thinks that his game, which does require much teamwork and non-verbal communication, may play that role.
“I’m sort of a traveling nomad,” he says. “I basically live and work out of my van and I’m planting seeds all over North America.”
The Eggman tried to go commerical once, introducing his game to Hasbro. The toy manufacturer decided that The Original Egg Game “wasn’t a game” at all, according to Jonas, “because there are no winners and losers.”
Be that as it may, the game has now sold approximately 2,000 copies at home and abroad, The Eggman says—which he considers a good start.