Scrabble: Everything’s Officially Ruined Again.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

I wasn’t going to bother writing about the lame decision to change the rules of Scrabble to allow proper nouns. As half-arsed publicity stunts go, it’s only slightly more devestating than if the makers of Monopoly grandly announced they were rewriting their rules to allow players to quit when they get bored.

But now I’m thinking they’ve got a point. The makers of Scrabble have twigged that a fundamental aspect of the game has changed. This isn’t about giving Stoopid Kids These Days the edge – it won’t: you play Xzibit, I play Xerxes (and Xzibit).

The thing is that modern-day Scrabble is played by people who can access the OED on their smartphones, not to mention various online anagram tools. Letting in proper names brings back a lost fundamental of Scrabble: arguing. Arguing over who is or is not sufficiently famous to justify the latest mangling of “Brittany”. Convincing people there really is a Greek island called Aeaea. Debating which variant spellings of Mxyzptlk are canon. Like all authentic grassroots games, nothing is certain and it all ends in bickering, resentment and tears.