In an earlier post, someone mentioned the tendency for game developers to create spin offs, or hybrids of traditional games that everyone loves. This is exactly what the creator of the widely popular Words With Friends game accomplished. The game took off instantly as one of the mobile world’s most popular games. Taking the basic strategy and rules of scrabble, a staple in American board games, and combining it with the new interactive, highly communicative nature of games in the 21st century was key.
The basic rules of the game are simple. You are presented with a board and 7 tiles, each with one letter on them. After beginning by combining your tiles to form a word in the center of the board, the players are free to build on each others words and create a board completely up to them. All words must connect in some way to another tile and no tiles can be placed on the board that do not connect to spell a word. Unlike most games of the past, there is an interactive component to Words with Friends. By connecting to social sites like Facebook and Twitter, people can find their friends and challenge them to a game. Each game contains a “chat” box for opponents to communicate back and fourth as the game progresses. Once the first person runs out of tiles, the game has finished. Whoever has the most points at the end is the winner.
In my mind, Words with Friends has become such a phenomenon in mobile gaming due to the interactivity mentioned above. In other posts we have discussed games where you play alone, against a computer or verse other people in person. However, this game takes on the digital universe by allowing people to play friends directly over the web and on their cell phones. Being in instant communication with your opponent as the game goes by adds excitement and intensity to the game itself.
I also think the game’s success comes from its connection to social sites. As Facebook and Twitter become more and more embedded in our lives, it is extremely logical for businesses to use these sites to reach their customers. Everyone must adapt to the social-media age and the situation is no different for game creators. Words with Friends has capitalized on this idea by allowing their game to be “tweeted” or posted to facebook. The publicity this presents only makes the game grow quicker.
The multi-player formula has proven itself as the perfect ingredient to the game’s over all popularity. The ease and simplicity of the interface make it a step up from its “Scrabble” competitor. Rather than searching through multiple screens to start a game, all it takes is a simple button and a new game begins in seconds.
As more and more games continue to establish themselves, it seems that interactivity is of the utmost importance. Words with Friends does a great job of creating a network in which to play a similar version of one of America’s most loved games. I have been playing for a long time now, and it really never gets old!