Words with Siblings

For the final game in this nostalgia-inducing and memory provoking digital artefact, my sister and I this week played a modernised version of our childhood favourite, Scrabble, in the form of Words With Friends. 

Scrabble was originally known as Criss-Cross, and “was based on the crossword puzzle and anagrams” (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Originally designed by the architect Alfred M. Butts in 1931, it was redesigned, renamed as Scrabble, and marketed by James Brunot in 1948. First developed right after the Great Depression, Hasbro describes the game as having the ability to “lift the spirit of millions”. Which is rather ironic considering the hostile fights it used to cause between my sister and I back in the day.

Now, you’d be less likely to pull out a dusty battered box with missing letters, and more inclined to tap away at your phone screen, battling out your vocabulary skills with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Words With Friends, as Kearse (2017) describes it would be considered “Scrabble’s modern heir and likely successor”. 

“It has obvious differences from its predecessor, from the board arrangement, to the frequencies, value, and total number of letter tiles. And more materially, I don’t have to dig into my closet then clear my kitchen table to play it. I access it from my smartphone and play multiple games at once”

(Kearse, 2017).

Rogerson (2016) also recounted that “the environment where a board game is played is critical to the players enjoyment of the game- and even their ability to play the game at all”. We found that playing the game remotely this week was by far our best experience of a board game translating to an online context. As we discuss below, the sounds, colours and poker machine-like effects made for a very enjoyable, and somewhat more-ish gameplay experience.

In contrast to our first week of playing online with Guess Who?, we found that this online gameplay still allowed for the user to make decisions, the playing experience wasn’t completely automated. It’s addictive, so much so that it even got Alec Baldwin kicked off a plane. As Guzman (2011) writes, “add in the increased portability and social aspects of diversions such as Words With Friends and you have an interactive experience that’s hard to resist.” I definitely think we ended this digital artefact on a high note with Scrabble, and I think it’s lucky I’ve almost reached the end of uni semester because I feel a new addiction coming on in the form of Words With Friends!


Guzman, R 2011, ‘Words With Friends proves addictive’, Chron, [online], accessed 6 June 2020, available at <https://www.chron.com/life/article/Words-With-Friends-proves-addictive-2390691.php>

Kearse, S 2017, ‘How ‘Words With Friends’ Became a Game About the Language of Everyday Life’, Vice, [online], accessed 5 June 2020, available at <https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/3kaxk5/how-words-with-friends-became-a-game-about-the-language-of-everyday-life>

Rogerson, M 2016, ‘”I love all the bits”: The materiality of boardgames’, Designing New Player Experiences, Microsoft Research Centre for Social NUI, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia. Available at: <https://www.academia.edu/25254052/_I_love_all_the_bits_The_materiality_of_boardgames&gt; [Accessed 14 May 2020].

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica 2020, ‘Scrabble: BOARD GAME’, Encyclopaedia Britannica, [online], accessed 5 June 2020, available at <https://www.britannica.com/sports/Scrabble>

Published by susiealdermann

Fifth Year Bachelor of Communications and Media/ Bachelor of International Studies (Dean's Scholar) student

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