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Made-Up Words With Friends

The shortcomings of an iPhone app for a competitive player.

I am a bad loser.

Ask my kids. I never once “let them win” at anything. There are no trophies for second place at our game table. Competition at the Brint House is fast, fierce and for real. Trash talking is just part of the game. You want to play blackjack? Put your money on the table. Up for a game of Scrabble? Get out the timer and the Official Scrabble Dictionary. Monopoly? You better know the rules, because if you land on “Income Tax” you are forbidden to tally your assets before deciding whether to pay 10 percent or $200. It’s by the book. 

Being a gaming gal, I have recently found myself slightly addicted to game apps on my iPhone.  It’s a problem. Words With Friends (WWF) has a stranglehold on my life. And I know I am not alone. In fact, I have made a game of guessing the number of monthly WWF players each morning when I first log on. It’s like watching the number of people served on the old McDonald’s signs. Currently, the WWF total is 16,700,000. Like McDonald’s, I think they will soon have to resort to “billions and billions play.”

But I have a beef to pick with both the people who created the online version and the people who play the online versions of Scrabble and Words With Friends. It’s too easy/tempting to cheat. I’m not talking about walking over to the old Webster’s Dictionary gathering dust in your den. I’m talking about randomly plugging in letters to see if they make real words.  And many times they do.  To prove my point, I have included a list of words that were recently played and accepted as “real” in the games I have in progress now. They include: parrying, wends, bene, qat, dealates, alevin, noh, drail, hie, xis, dex, leno, yeti, jin and trooz. Go ahead, look them up. I’ll wait.

Players often appear to be superstars, brilliant, real Mensa material online, but I wonder how they would fare in an old fashioned face-to-face game. One where the rules are easy to follow; you put down a word and the opponent either accepts it or challenges it. No guessing, no looking up the word before playing your turn, no cheating, no nonsense. I’m not suggesting the player must know the definition of the word he or she plays (although that would be nice), but knowing the spelling and that it is a bona fide word is a must. 

In the spirit of true gaming as it was meant to be, the Brint Family spent many hours this winter break playing Scrabble and Cribbage. It pains me to report that for the first time, my 14-year-old son beat me at Scrabble.  He was my last hope. The two older children had already learned to beat me at Cribbage and tennis, so I hung my hat on the fact that I could still beat number three at Scrabble. Those days are over. It’s time to adopt a new child, one young enough so that I can kick butt in Candyland. 

As for the three kids I already have? The day they beat me is the day I remove them from my will. 

Like I said, I like to win.

Casey Cora January 20, 2012 at 06:40 PM
My friend likes to argue that WWF is "a completely different game" than Scrabble, one that requires "a different strategy." I suppose if two people want to square off by plugging in random letters, then, hey, go ahead. That's the game, I guess. But I've quit playing entirely, specifically for that reason.
Charlie January 21, 2012 at 05:51 AM
Well...actually yes. Qat came to our attention in a big way when the US was in Somalia a few years back, where a majority of the populace is addicted to chewing it.
Charlie January 21, 2012 at 05:55 AM
I can't say the strategy is different from Scrabble. It's about determining the best opening on the game board to score the most points and building words there to do that...or prevent your opponent from doing so.
Betsy Brint January 21, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Quick update on the total number of monthly Words With Friends users. In the one week since this article was posted, the number has jumped 1,100,000 from 16,700,000 to 17,800,000.
words with friends help February 01, 2012 at 12:10 PM
"WORDS WITH FRIENDS" That game is trending and is very popular nowadays. Its a way of spending your time with your family especially your having a luck of time in spending with them.Its really a good game,it can broaden your knowledge and you will really learn some words that you haven't encountered.

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