Scrabble Fever

posted by : Jon Kroupa on 04/27/2011
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I came very late to the Words With Friends scene. I only recently got a decent smart phone, but Words With Friends isn't available on Windows Phone 7, and it isn't likely to be for some time. I was fortunate enough to get a used iPod Touch for a cheap price, and now I join all the rest of the cool kids. (My iPod Touch is basically a Words With Friends console, as I use it for little else.)

Many of my friends play this game, people who have no history (or even concept) of traditional Scrabble, and wouldn't be very likely to play it. As a Scrabble enthusiast for many years, I was initially disturbed by the changed position of modifiers, and the changed value of letters. I eventually decided this was probably to avoid any copyright issues with Hasbro, and while it still seems strange that a 'U' is worth 2 points instead of 1, I've grown accustomed to it.

My only real complaint is that it does not allow non-words. It uses the Scrabble Dictionary Fourth Edition, and it is not possible to submit a word that does not appear to that dictionary. This eliminates one of the skills required for regular Scrabble, in which you are not only forming words, but you have to know many words, to make sure your opponent is not playing random combinations of letters for maximum point value.

In Words With Friends when you submit an unapproved word it gives you a message and your turn continues until you either pass, exchange, resign, or find a valid word. There is no penalty for trying lots of combinations of words, which I feel leads to people just brute forcing a lot of words into the game by just constantly rearranging their high point letters and mindlessly hitting the submit button. Of course there is nothing to stop a person from cheating and using one of the many online sites which will take your letters and show you every possible combination of valid words, as a traditional Scrabble player I feel the game is rewarding deviant behavior.

I don't know how many people start with Words With Friends and take a second look at Scrabble, but I imagine it is love / hate relationship when they do. Words With Friends will teach them a lot of words that are valid which they probably didn't already know. On the other hand it must be a real shock when they play an invalid word and lose their turn as a result of it (when their opponent challenges).

I hope Words With Friends comes to Windows Phone 7, and soon, because I would much rather only carry one device around in my left pocket. I'm glad the creators of the game have made people enthusiastic about word games again, and I hope that this will lead to a better mastery of grammar and spelling among the 'young' people.

   39 dislikes 36 likes

I'm not sure I'd like WWF. Bluffing isn't just for poker. :)

Susan Kroupa : Apr 27th 2011, 19:13

Someday I'll be good enough to beat you in a game.

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