So if I wasn’t already addicted to my iPhone, over the Thanksgiving break my brother introduced me to the wildly popular application called Words With Friends. If you have never heard of Words before chances are you probably live under a rock and you probably don’t have a smart phone. Words With Friends is basically a one-on-one game of Scrabble played electronically. There are people all over the country who play it religiously, including Alec Baldwin who was kicked off his plane because he refused to turn his phone off while in the middle of a game.
I really like Words With Friends. I enjoy the competitive nature that comes with going heads up against someone in a battle of wits. The relaxation that also comes with Words is much appreciated also. There is just something about sitting down on the couch and watching football while at the same time making moves in Words. If, heaven forbid, there happens to be no football on and there is nothing else for me to do, Words is a time killer too. The game is a godsend during meetings at work…I am able to keep my sanity during those times when meetings go on forever by becoming immersed in my latest game. Have to go to the bathroom? Words is quickly replacing newspapers and magazines.
While the game is fun, it is also addicting. Once in a battle, you become engaged and find yourself going back and forth from what you are doing at the moment in your real life to what is unfolding on your phone. Now here is the kicker…multiply the craziness and competitive nature of that one game by twenty. Why twenty? Because you can have up to twenty games going at once. For people like me who love the game, we are always maxed out on the game limit. When you are playing that many games at once, you are guaranteed to always have action waiting for you on your phone when you go back to the application. Sometimes when I am in the middle of something at work or I do manage to get a couple hours of sleep, I will go a while without checking Words. When I finally check back on the app, I will usually have something like fourteen or fifteen moves to make. When this is the case, I always feel like the chess master who is going from chess board to chess board, making move after move. It is a lot of fun, but can also be overwhelming at the same time.
Words With Friends is not perfect. Some of the words that the application accepts make me so angry. I think the English version of the game should be based on the English language. I get incensed when people play the word “Qi.” This is a notoriously popular word in Words With Friends because it is an easy way to get rid of a Q Tile when you don’t have a lot of space to do much more or you don’t have a U Tile. But come on, it is a Chinese word. It Is also an incredibly lazy move. This would never fly as legit in my own family Scrabble game. Sometimes I feel skill is taken out of a lot of the Words games with certain opponents. What these opponents do is basically fish all day for words and/or use words that are nowhere near their vocabulary level but because they have played roughly 1,385,424 games of Words before, they know it is an acceptable word and they can get a good amount of points for it. Ask the person what the word they just played means and they will look at you with a blank stare.
In Words With Friends, as opposed to Scrabble, there is no time limit on how long you have to make a move (well, there is like a ten day period where you have to make a move or forfeit). There is also no penalty for putting down a word that is actually not a word. All what happens is the app tells you that the jibberish you put down is not an acceptable word and you get to try again…over and over. So basically what you can do, and many people do this, is take an hour to try every sketchy, potentially high point value word under the sun until the app finally accepts one. I much rather play you and lose to you because of your superior vocabulary rather than your ability to blindly string together some obscure word that took you fifteen minutes and thirty different submissions to come up with. If I was in charge of Words With Friends, I would implement a time limit and a word submission limit. Each time you tap into a game with a certain opponent, you would have two minutes to make a move. If you did not make a move in that two minutes, your turn would be passed. Likewise, there would be little tolerance for guesswork. The app would allow you ONE spell check. The first time you put down a word that is nowhere to be found in the dictionary you would get a notice telling you that it is not a word….the second time you put down a bogus word, your turn would be passed. I just think these changes would focus the game more on intelligence and wit rather than a challenge of who has the most time to use every combination of their letters to come up with some bizarre word that they will never utter in their life.
Words With Friends also rejects words that are in fact real words. I was in a close game with someone once and I attempted to play the word “June.” I had my “J” (J Tiles are worth 10 points) on a triple letter space and I was all set to seal up the game. However, once I submitted the word I was greeted with the “June is not an acceptable word message.” Hogwash. A calendar month is definitely a word. The game also accepts some cuss words and rejects others.
Despite Words With Friends having some flaws, it is what it is. It is definitely a game of strategy. I have perfected my own personal strategy and have had a great deal of success with it. However, there are some people who I have a tough time beating. My brother is the best player I know. I have only beat him once. My boss kicked my ass by a hundred points the other day (she actually broke a 14 game win streak I had put together). I have several friends who I play with who I know it will go down to the wire with each time. Games get so much fun and intense when each player is down to their last several tiles, the board is full, and the gap in points between the two players is in the single digits. SIDE NOTE: I said I have a tough time beating my brother and that is a testament to him. But please don’t do what he does. After a victory he will send the score and the board of the game to Facebook, plaster it on his page, tag his opponent in it, and give it some caption talking about how bad he just beat whoever. Don’t do that. Win with class and lose with class.
Words With Friends is also a social game too! There is a chat option and I use it a lot. I will talk good-natured shit to opponents, call them out if they play a bush league word, or send them a wake up call if they are taking way too long to make a move. I also use it just to chat too. I have reconnected with people and had game long conversations with friends and acquaintances who I haven’t talked to in a long time or really never talked to at all. If there is someone you have a crush on and they are on Words With Friends, send them an invite to play! It is a good way to get your foot in the door with the person. If played right you can go from chatting with her on Words With Friends to texting her on your phone to talking to her face-to-face on a date. It is definitely worth a try.
So believe it or not, I have not checked my Words With Friends since I started writing this. That means I have forty-five minutes worth of moves that I need to catch up on so it is best that I probably wrap this up. But if you are reading this and you have Words With Friends, challenge me!! Good luck. Don’t Blink.