Mondays on the Margins: Words and Friends

I don't play Angry Birds. Or Fruit Ninja. Or Zombies vs. Watermelons or whatever. My ipad has tons of game apps on it because of my kids, but it's just not something that activates my pleasure centers. When I'm stuck waiting for my kids in the car or outside dance class I generally read or, if I don't have a book, clean out my purse or something - my phone doesn't even have games, or the internet.

But every now and then I get hooked on a word game on Facebook. The one where you use the letters to make up as many words as possible, or the other one where you... uh, do the same thing but in a grid? I was addicted to these for a while but it was a long time ago, they sort of catch fire for a bit and then everyone moves on.

But I kept hearing about Words With Friends, and I kept thinking hey! I like words! I like friends! I really need to check this game out sometime. So this past week-end I became probably the last person in the Western World to start playing Words With Friends. Which name is a VICIOUS LIE, let me tell you, because it's SCRABBLE.

I FUCKING HATE SCRABBLE. As my friend Collette says, Scrabble is NOT about vocabulary. it's about strategy. Vocabulary I have. Strong skills on the strategy front? Not so much.

Why should it matter, right? It's just a fun game between friends. Except I can't just have fun. No fun exists without subtext. When my friends all beat me, and they do all beat me, because I'm busy spelling 'it' and adding an 's' to 'car' and figuring out that I can spell STEAMIER with all my letters, but not anywhere on the actual board, I think that they're secretly revising their opinion of me as an intelligent person, and feeling really embarrassed for me, and wondering what the respectable length of time is before they can quietly unfriend me and pretend this horrible unpleasantness never happened. I'd probably be less mortified if I'd thrown up on their sofa while their mother-in-law was visiting. Not to mention the fact that when Sarah Piazza said on Facebook that she "needed more partners for Words With Friends" she neglected to add "to chew up and spit out". Quaids? What the fuck are quaids? She's brilliant, and articulate, and she knows words AND STRATEGY. And yet I keep going back for even more humiliation and wordish carnage.

While I was crawling away from a WWF debate in ignominious defeat, I stumbled across another app called  94 seconds. In this one, you have 94 seconds to give as many answers as you can for things like "mammals that begin with the letter T", "flowers that begin with the letter R" or "auto manufacturers that begin with the letter W".

It's really hard. Especially for someone like me, who tends to go: Uh, a mammal. DOG. No, that doesn't start with a T. Uh...TOG. No, come on, a mammal that starts with T, this is easy....I suspect the whole point is that the mind isn't flexible about things like this, it tends to fixate on one result and can't easily find another one, although some people probably are naturally better than others.

There's a fish category. I kept not being able to come up with anything, so at one point I just started typing a random word and putting 'fish' after it. Zebrafish! And then I was surprised as hell when it was right, so I kept doing it. Railfish! Thornfish! Razorfish! Penisfish! (I think I made that last one up, but honestly it's hard to be sure). I'm not entirely sure what the point of the game is, since the same question tends to come up in subsequent games so your result gets better by default because you start being able to memorize some answers, although just when I think I've really got it figured out I forget that the 'M' element from the periodic table is Mercury, or that Drum is a pretty freaking obvious answer for musical instrument that starts with D, or I get "Country that starts with C" and don't automatically put THE ONE I LIVE IN. But I can't stop playing it anyway. I'm probably creating some very specific and odd new neuronal pathways. I might start craving razorfish on toast any moment now.

So yeah. If you need me, I'll be over here wondering if I can close the hundred-and-forty-seven-point gap between me and Sarah, or trying to desperately to think of a foreign capital of a sovereign nation. That starts with a V.


Julie said…
Start playing Razzel with me and you will gain all of your self esteem back. My friend Denise whoops my ass everyday, and I keep going back for more.

And here, just for you: Penis Fish
Nicole said…
I haven't played any of those games - I guess I'm addicted enough to my phone, I don't need anything else!
I haven't heard of the 94 second one. I would be terrible at it. Once you add time, I panic and forget every word I've ever known. I've been playing Scramble which is like Boggle and I enjoy it more than Words With Friends because a match is usually over in less than a day instead of the months long game you and I have been playing. :)
Sasha said…
There are video games about fruit? Oh well. I suppose that's better than video games about mob violence and stealing cars.

How can you like word games and not like scrabble???? The strategy is easy - try to get the most points on every. single. turn. If you try to get all fancy and plan shit, someone effs it up for you before it comes back to your turn.

(As for quaids - doesn't matter what it means, all that matters is that it's got a q in it :).

I've never played words with friends, though. I'm guessing you don't want to play? How about if I promise to respect you in the morning, even if I whip your a$$? Honestly, I worry far more about someone still liking me after something like that. But I'm far to competitive to, you know, ease off or something. Which means I have less maturity than my four-year-old, who at least let me "tie" on occasion while we raced up and down the driveway the other night, she on her bike, me on roller blades.

Mind you, she never actually let me *win*. I have to wonder if my new love of the bosu ball - for strengthening my ankles and improve my roller blading - isn't just so that I can eventually whip *her* ass. Sad, isn't it?
Hannah said…
I also hate Scrabble, I've always hated Scrabble, I'd rather die of boredom than try and play it.

So I feel you, sister. That 94 second one sounds like fun, though. (Foreign capital that starts with V - Vienna?)
Maggie said…
I am a geek in all regards other than not enjoying computer/video games or comic books. Husband and oldest child keep trying to get me interested in computer games. I just . . . don't care. In addition, although I love Boggle, I hate Scrabble. One would think these would be two related games, but no. I've always hated Scrabble, in all of its forms, so no WWF for me. The only thing less appealing to me would be some kind of online Monopoly. Shudder.
Anonymous said…
Also, we need to determine the rounds of the quiz according to it.
I believe my exact words were "I don't want to be your dirty little secret. The buccal cavity is a small cavity that has neither jaws nor teeth.

Also visit my web-site: pub quiz answers and questions
Sarah McCormack said…
nothing to add except that i enjoyed the post!

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