Gaming curiosities: No. 1

Kwalee Gameplay Guru, Andrew Graham, talks about trends and topics in the games industry.

It’s always nice to see old favourites being reinterpreted in original ways.

Being one of the worlds favourite board games has ensured that Scrabble has seen many homages over the years, and this has only accelerated since the dawn of social gaming. Over the weekend, though, I stumbled upon the most extraordinary variation on this theme that I have seen. WordSquared is a massively multiplayer Scrabble game. Yes – there are no limit to the number of players, and in fact, no limit to the size of the board.

When you first fire up the game, everything seems as normal. However, the first clue that this is not like other scrabble games is a map in the top right corner. By maximizing this, the full awesome extent of the game is revealed to you. The board extends infinitely far in all directions. Words connect to words connect to words, and nothing is ever removed. Every word that any player has ever played remains in place, and ribbons of letters flow into the distance, merging to form vast sprawling continents.

In play, it feels more like a cooperative piece of art than a game. Each person stitching their own little corner of the quilt.

The first word you place must connect to another word already in place, and thereafter you must connect to your own words. You don’t take turns with other players – you just place words as frequently as you like, for as long as you want.

A kind of competitive gameplay is suggested by the creators of the game, in which players are trying to surround other players’ words, to box them in. I’m not sure if gameplay like this will actually manifest in reality – but it remains a very interesting project nonetheless.

I hope we will see other such radical reinterpretations of old favourites as the great social gaming experiment continues.