Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I'm so lame I can't even come up with a scrabble-related pun for this goddamn title

I am a surprisingly terrible scrabble player. I don’t just mean that I’m particularly bad at coming up with seven letter words into which I can wedge my X, J and three Os, although I am. I mean also that I dislike the game, find I get far too competitive and am prone to a fit of the sulks when things don’t go my way. The combination of being a bad player and a bad sport is not a very good one. So why is it that news of a Scrabble plug-in for Facebook has me so excited?

This from Charlie Brooker:

"Don't kick your own teeth out with excitement or anything, but I've been
playing Scrabble. Virtual Scrabble. Or "Scrabulous" as it's known. It's a
plug-in for Facebook: you challenge a friend, then play turn-by-turn; casually,
languidly, via email, which means games often last a week or more - like test
match cricket, but faintly more interesting."
(You can read the rest of his article, which is pretty funny here)

I’m not sure why I should care about the rise of a new forum in which to play I game I neither like nor am particularly good at but ultimately I think it is something to do with the fact that I have always wanted to like scrabble and to be good at it. Having never managed either I continue to nurse a hope that the prospect of not actually having to be in the same room as the person or people I’m playing against might help me to finally achieve this.

Not, as Brooker suggests, because of the ease with which you can cheat but because it removes the social aspect of the game, which I think is what I find distasteful.To explain this one I’m going to go all Normal Bates and blame my mother. My family seemed to do little else but play games of scrabble while I was growing up and, as the youngest by a good few years, I was also inevitably the crappest player. I spent hours floundering around with four letter marvels while my parents and siblings hit the triple letter word scores, simultaneously divesting themselves of those pesky Z, Q or Js.

My mother, bless her, sought to encourage me to stay in the game by ‘helping me’, which mostly consisted of rearranging my scrabble tiles and staring pointedly at a spot on the board on which I might like to place this new-found word. I hated this and still blame these early forays for my life-long distaste for the game. Put a set of tiles and some competitors in the same room as me and I’m a grumpy eight year old again, staring at the letters my mother has helpfully rearranged for me: DUNCE.

Is it too much to help that technology has finally given me a way to enjoy a game I’ve always wanted to enjoy? Can the soothing touch of a mouse beneath my hand help to erase years of barely repressed rage at my inability to come up with somewhere to place my flukishly-assembled seven letter word? Could I come to love a game that has always hated me? Probably not but it sounds worth a shot.

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