Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Heavens to Murgatroyd!

With, apparently, the new rules of Scrabble, you can use the proper name "Snagglepuss", which will net you a whopping 15-points (maybe more, if any of your tiles are on a double, or triple, score).

They be messin' with a lot of heads;

Beyonce on a triple-word score? Scrabble to upset purists with 'dumbing down' rule change

The decision, by games giant Mattel, will allow the celebrity, geographic and sports worlds to invade the most popular word game, leaving many a Scrabble fan bemused, or as the regular player may prefer, bumbazed.

For why memorise some of the 30,000 eight letter words in our rich and quirky English language when the names of pop stars such as Jay-Z or sportsmen like Zico may get you many more points


Mattel defends its decision to make the game easier by saying it will level the playing field between experienced players and novices.

But the announcement has caused outrage among regular players with accusations that the company is 'dumbing down' the game.

Keith Churcher, chairman of the Reading Scrabble Club, was dismayed.

He said: 'Players like myself have spent decades memorising words in the dictionary.

'To be trumped by someone with knowledge of the current top ten pop chart is not a welcome prospect.

'They're dumbing down a classic.'

Mary Elizabeth Williams, over at Salon;
I'll get the smelling salts ... Proper nouns? Why, that would be like letting the rook move diagonally in chess! Building a hotel before you've bought all the houses on Monopoly! Installing elevators in Chutes and Ladders! Playing quarters with dimes!
But wait, as Williams points out, there's a catch!
But not so fast. Writing in Slate, Stefan Fatsis, author of "Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players," told lexicon addicts across the land to call off their dogs. The poorly disseminated real story was that "Mattel, which owns the rights to Scrabble outside of North America, is introducing a game this summer called Scrabble Trickster. The game will include cards that allow players to spell words backward, use proper nouns, and steal letters from opponents." In other words -- it's just a spinoff. And American Scrabble, which is owned by Hasbro, isn't even affected.
As Fatsis explains;
So how did this latest games marketing gimmick turn into a global foofaraw? A combination of deceptive corporate shilling and media incompetence. The news of the game, I'm told, first appeared as four lines in a toy industry trade magazine. Then the British media started calling Mattel, and the company appears to have done nothing to disabuse gullible reporters of the idea that a Major Change is occurring. In the Daily Mail, a Mattel spokesman implied that the rules of the game had officially been changed. Mattel would still sell a Scrabble with the "old rules," but this new and improved game would help "level the playing field" between "experienced players with a vast vocabulary" and "players with a love of celebrity or football." Reporters didn't bother calling the Mattel executive in London who oversees competitive Scrabble play outside North America. In the United States and Canada, reporters mostly didn't even make the distinction between Mattel and Hasbro, the game's dueling corporate overlords.
Hmmm ...

Competing Scrabble owners?

Rather abstruse on why they would create this discombobulation, leaving all of us in quite the discomposed state.

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