An iPhone Scrabble Spin-off App with the Ability to Unite Puzzle Lovers Online

Words with Friends, an application for the iPhone and more recently the Android, offers gamers an endless, unpredictable, and challenging version of Scrabble that continues to grow in popularity. The spin-off taps into the need for gamers to compete against human opponents. There is a very real thrill playing against someone who is real, regardless of whether or not the two people actually know each other.

For anyone who has seen the brilliant documentary Wordplay, about the varied group of people who love crossword puzzles, there is an understanding that people who thrive on such word games are a smart and clever, if not odd bunch. They are not as eccentric as Best in Show competitors, nor as wildly maniacal as sports fans, but there is truly a devotion and near obsession with those who thrive on puzzles.

Words with Friends, an application for the iPhone and more recently the Android, offers gamers an endless, unpredictable, and challenging version of Scrabble that continues to grow in popularity, building on people’s love of word games. The spin-off taps into the need for gamers to compete against human opponents. There is a very real thrill playing against someone who is real, regardless of whether or not the two people actually know each other.

Words with Friends not only allow users to play strangers, but to chat as well
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While the game offers you a chance to play against a computer, most prefer, understandably so, to play against a human. The app allows the user to find opponents and chat with them while play progresses. Each individual game may take days or even weeks to finish as two people take a turn at their leisure, but there is nothing stopping people from playing multiple boards with multiple opponents.

A recent article in The New York Times highlighted the game in the business section, but also took time to mention a bond that was created through the game. It turns out that two random people who started playing each other online began to chat, met, and fell in love, as they say. It is indeed a marriage by word games. Now this may certainly not be the rule, but it is definitely not the exception. There is a connection between strangers who can push each other mentally, and with many people who love puzzles, there is a high level of competition.

Zynga owns the game, which plays like Scrabble but features different tile values and board bonuses in order to increase scoring (and to eliminate any threat from Hasbro, the company that owns the rights to Scrabble). Zynga is not new to word puzzles, featuring games on Facebook such as Word Twist and Scramble. According the company, as many as 10 million people have downloaded Words with Friends for the iPhone.

The online version shouldn’t replace the physical game, as like newspapers, there is still an enjoyment in the physical aspect of the experience (unlike newspapers, board games aren’t going out of business). Instead, the portable electronic gaming universe supplements the tangible exercise, availing itself to people who are busy and have minutes, not hours to spare.

It may not have been thought originally as a tool for socializing, but for puzzle enthusiasts, there is more a drive to play someone who can keep up rather than just a friend. Much in the same way video game consoles allow sports fans to connect and play each other in football for example, Words with Friends allows others gamer to meet up and compete. The main goal still may not be meeting new people or reacquainting with others, but it is definitely a positive byproduct of this simple and thoroughly addictive word game.