Now that we've talked about how important it is to know the right term, let me introduce you to my favourite game of late: Words With Friends. I play this game obsessively, night and day. I started playing the game after getting fed up with Scrabble online play and its Facebook interface. But once I began playing WWF, I quickly forgot all about Scrabble, and now I can't remember the last time I played a true Scrabble game.
For, those of you who may be unfamiliar with the game, Words With Friends is essentially the same game as Scrabble - the differences being that the board is different, and some of the tiles are scored differently. With more opportunities to score higher, it is not unusual to see scores over 400 points and consequently, the almighty 7-letter premiums, which Scrabble is famous for, are not as devasting (they also don't weigh as much, only 35 points as opposed to Scrabble's 50).
This results in a few interesting things:
- You don't have to be great to score highly, and high points make us feel good.
- You can more easily recover from a 7-letter whopper, and...
- You are less able to monopolise bonus point locations, because there's more than enough to go around.
But even better than these 3 things, is WWF's seamless integration into Facebook and across platforms. I play WWF night and day not primarily because I enjoy it, but because I can. It's on my iPad, my Android device, and if worst comes to worst I can always start a game directly from the Facebook website.
Coupled with this ease of use, is the ease of finding challengers. Nobody really wants to play a game with someone they do not know. With Facebook, the days of hosting a game and waiting for random people to join in are on the decline. We want to play games against our siblings, our friends, our colleagues at work, and if not against them, then with them against other people.
The makers of WWF, Zynga, understand this, and using this approach have launched and continue to launch many games that capitalise on this simple fact. Hanging With Friends, Scramble With Friends, Chess With Friends, and so on and so forth. Because this is how we play games in real life: We gather with those we know and begin a game. Our opponents are never random, even if our acquaintance with them is.
The world is a small place, and it has gotten even smaller with the advent of social networks. The 6 degrees of separation that once were obscured from our knowledge are now both visible and accessible to us. So much so, that I feel it can no longer be considered to be 6. More like 2: You->[insert social network here]->Anyone else in the world.
It's pretty cool if you think about it. It means that if I really wanted to, I could probably get introduced to Jules Hoffmann, Adam Reiss, Thomas Sargent, Daniel Shechtman, or Tawakul Karman. And if you don't know who those are, you should Google them [Hint: They have no bells].
But getting back to a more practical application, how 'bout you get on Facebook, or your iPad, iPhone, or Android device, and play a game of words... with me?