Words With Friends

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!

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7 comments
  1. Jennifer Tucker said:

    I agree with Spencer that it is the interactivity of Words with Friends that makes people like it. From personal experience, I believe that it is the fact that you could be playing against your own facebook friend that increases competitiveness and makes people care more about winning. I was never interested in these kinds of games, but it is advertised so much through the games own players via twitter and facebook that I had to give it a try. My biggest pet peeve with most video games is how difficult it is to start and play games, and I believe the simplicity is the reason it is one of the few games I play.

  2. lpsmit said:

    I absolutely LOVE this game. Although this game is a spin off of scrabble, which I’ve never wanted to play, for some reason, this game caught me from the start. Not only does it allow me to be competitive with my friends on various social networks, but it also allows me to stretch my vocabulary. I guess I should have played scrabble when my parents suggested it to me.

  3. jmtroop said:

    Words With Friends is quite possibly the most addictive social games being played today. This blog points out the reasons for that very effectively. I do not have a smartphone, and do not have the ability to play Words With Friends on what was its original platform. But, my Facebook access gives me the capability to play along with some of my freinds. It is interesting to see how often people are playing in each of the games, especially during classes in the maddle of the day. This game also has the really cool aspect of allowing you to keep in touch with your friends in the form of a chat system. I would even argue that this game is being played more then Angry Birds on a daily basis.

  4. khausoul said:

    One of the biggest components that I feel is left out as one of the key features is the game’s ability to pick up or stop at any moment. The game has interactivity, like everyone is mentioning but it also allows you to play when you want to play. Games that have interactivity usually require both players to be playing at the same time. Words With Friends allows you to take a turn and then leave it for the other player whenever they so choose to play. It is this freedom that makes the game so unique and creative. There is also not much learning required because the rules of scrabble are well-known by such a heavy majority of people.

  5. spenway said:

    Wow, I can’t believe I forgot to mention that aspect of the game play. I totally passed it by but believe it is really critical to the games success. By picking up and stoping the game whenever you please, the players are given more control by the game makers. This control clearly translates positively, as the game currently has over 1.6 million average daily users. The game is not rushed whatsoever. With the lack of a time limit, players are encouraged to truly think about each move they make. Ultimately, the idea that each player is giving it their all on each word makes winning that much more satisfying!

  6. The original Scrabble game takes so long to finish and deals with so many annoying pieces you have to keep track of. Even if you wanted to leave the game and come back to it you would be at risk of someone messing up the game board and switching up the pieces. Words With Friends makes this process so much easier as you mentioned with its ability to start or stop the game at any time. Then, the fact that you can easily look up through Facebook which of your friends are playing makes it even easier to get a game going. I love being able to compete with some of my closest friends and even some of my Facebook friends that I haven’t spent time with in a long time. The interaction and ease of gameplay make this game a huge hit!

  7. mtkantro said:

    I completely agree with the original poster here. I think Words w Friends is such a success because of the interactivity and the ability to play it on the gamer’s terms. I play Words w Friends very often but only when I have time. That truly is the genius of the game. It is amazing to see how successful this brand has become. Recently I downloaded Scarmble w Friends and Hanging w Friends. Scramble is essentially the board game Boggle and Hanging is Hang Man. They are both as addictive as Words w Friends. I am constantly asking my friends to play me or taking trash through the chat room. These games have had a huge success and it is definitely not a wonder as to why.

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