Archive for April 20th, 2009

MOFT: Episode 13 (Scramble on Facebook)

My One Favorite Thing this week is Scramble, an anagram word game on Facebook that is basically the online equivalent of the old board game Boggle.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the basic idea is you are given a bunch of letter tiles laid out on a square board and you must string adjacent letters together to form words of at least three letters long, racking up more points for longer words.

It’s quite the simple premise … and also dangerously addictive.

To be honest, I don’t even know if Scramble is My One Favorite Thing. It could quite possibly be My One Least Favorite Thing. All I know is I’m playing it a lot. A LOT. In fact, I can’t stop playing it. I’m playing it now, actually, even as I write this, because one of the unfortunate side effects of playing the game for extended periods is you can’t stop seeing Scramble boards floating in front of your head and trying to form words off of them.

Yes, I am apparently hallucinating from overdosing on Scramble. Now I understand the true meaning of the game’s name – it totally scrambles your brain into mushy eggs.

I don’t quite know how it got to this point. A few months ago, I was playing a few games of Scramble a week – a rather innocuous amount – with one of my friends on Facebook. Unfortunately, she’s like an anagram idiot savant and always crushed me.

While I was getting a bit better, the bad losses continued to pile up and began to really bother me. I said as much to my friend and she suggested I get more practice by trying out the ‘Play Live’ version of the game where you can compete against hundreds of other people who are playing Scramble online at the same time.

So I tried it. And then I couldn’t stop. The beauty of the game is that it is short – each match is between 1 minute and 3 minutes, depending on the version you play – and after the time stops, you can see what words you missed (and also get their definitions if you’d like but learning useful stuff really has nothing to do with Scramble). You can also see your scoring rank updated realtime, and if you are in the top 25 by the end of the game, you can see your profile picture proudly displayed to the right. Each match sends a tiny little shot of endorphins rushing through your bloodstream.

One night, I decided I was not going to go to bed until I got every 3-letter word on one of the boards, so after each game I would write down a three-letter word I missed and had never heard of before and commit it to memory. I spent the next six hours – writing down almost 100 words in the process (file attached) – trying to accomplish my goal. I never did it, getting only as close as one missed 3-letter word before I realized I was perhaps a game away from completely losing it and going on a Scramble-induced murderous rampage.

Part of me wants to go on and on about all the nuances of the game – how I wish they would get rid of the ability to use gameplay credits to get word hints because it’s F-in cheating and I know people use it all the time just so they can push me out of the top 10 at the last second, how I wish I knew how the game calculates one’s Word IQ because it seems almost totally arbitrary, how I wish people in the chat board would say something – ANYTHING – other than ‘gga’ or ‘wd’ after every friggin game, etc.

But there’s this other part of me – oh, call it every last tingling, jangling nerve in my body – that needs another Scramble hit right now, so you’ll have to excuse me while I get my next fix.

April 2009
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