Sophie Heawood: Down with Scrabulous and its 'op', 'voe' and 'id'

The IoS writer rues the day she started playing Scrabble online

Share
Related Topics

My friends are all very upset at the news that they might not be allowed to play online Scrabble any more. The angry chieftains at the toy companies Hasbro and Mattel, co-owners of the Scrabble trademark, told the social networking website Facebook to take down the "Scrabulous" application this week, because it infringes their copyright. As yet, the internet imitation of Scrabble lives on, and Facebook has refused to comment. Still, my friends are already wiping their tears on their virtual dictionaries and wondering what they will do all day long when they can no longer turn letters into words inside a little box on a slightly bigger screen.

I don't get it. After months of resisting the Scrabulous craze, I eventually gave in, but I'm not sure why. I had resisted because it is so boring: playing Scrabble on the internet takes an age. You take your turn and then wait for the other person to come online and take theirs. Whole weeks, months, millennia can pass; Russian chess-masters have got nothing on this.

As for Scrabble's delusions of literary merit – there's nothing literary about being good with words individually. Literature involves being good with groups of words, in a particular order. It's like a chef only being good with separate ingredients: a familiarity with flour, sugar and eggs isn't going to help you trounce Jane Asher in championship cake-baking.

And it's not as if I'm even testing my vocabulary. In my current game, I've slogged my lexical guts out to turn an excruciating selection of letters into genius words such as "queried" and "pronged" – only to watch my cursed opponent leap 20 points into the lead by filling our board with pointless clumps including "voe", "op", and "id". I mean, "voe", "op" and "id" are not even words, surely – they're the noises scientologists make when they sleep, dreaming of Thetans. The computer says he is allowed these follies. I insist my friend is cheating.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans," said John Lennon. Now he would surely say: "Life is what happens to you when you turn on the internet to check the cinema times and find yourself still there four hours later having discovered a website with videos of cats wearing hats." Internet time-wasting is fun when it happens by accident. But Scrabulous is far too intentional for my liking, so it's no loss to me if the toy companies have the application banned.

Yet, ironically enough, it will be a huge loss for them. Thousands of Scrabulous users say they've got so hooked online that they bought a nice old-fashioned copy of the board game to play offline. Hasbro and Mattel "must be certifiably insane. Scrabulous is the best, cheapest, hippest advertising they could possibly have," says one member of the Save Scrabulous groups appearing all over Facebook, and he's right.

One of the reasons the music industry is in such a pickle right now, with major job losses at EMI, is not that the pirate download culture destroyed them, but that they failed to accept and capitalise on download culture sooner.

If the games market is now faced with online competition too, it should watch and learn.

Of course, the toy-makers waited until January to make their complaint, having first benefited from a huge surge in Scrabble's Christmas sales. And it's all thanks to some ingenious programmers who turned Scrabble into an online craze for free. Scrabulous? The programmers should make them a new game: Scrupulous.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to tea...

Digital Fundraising Analyst/Web Analyst - West Sussex - Permanent - £30k DOE

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Application Support Engineer – 6 month FTC – West Sussex - £26k-£28k pro rata

£26000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: English Teacher required for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron used his speech to make a direct pitch to Ukip supporters as well as Eurosceptic Tories  

Politicians say the craziest things – and never more so than at election time

Mark Steel
The Angel of the North  

It’s not because I’m sentimental about the North that I believe it needs devolved powers

Chris Blackhurst
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?