Damn You, Mattel!
So apparently toy company Mattel is going to be releasing a new version of Scrabble, called “Scrabble Trickster”, that will actually be allowing the use of proper nouns. Blasphemy, I say! Shenanigans! The rage I feel at this desecration of a beautiful game is utterly boundless. It’s just not cool, people!
The company’s claim is that this “new dimension” of the game will make it more accessible to a “new generation” of players. I say it’s nothing but an idiot rule, a publicity ploy, and perhaps an ill-disguised attempt at encouraging product placement ads. It completely violates the spirit and the letter (no pun intended) of the game I’ve been playing since I first learned how to spell. No proper nouns allowed! It’s simply the way things are, and the way that they’ve always been. What’s next — acronyms? Netspeak? Or how about *shudder* spelling things fo-ne-tik-lee?
This sort of thing is the reason why we’ve got a generation of kids who simply don’t know how to spell. Forget blaming it on the teachers and the (admittedly weak) public school system: if we can’t have some way of making properly-spelled words competitive, they’re going to lose all meaning to the younger generation! If you can start winning Scrabble games by spelling “LULZ” or “PEPSICOLA”, the game loses all educational value and just becomes another way for kids to show off how cool they are (look, I spelled “NIKE”, I’m cooler than you because all you could spell was “ONOMATOPOEIA”). Might as well start awarding points for how many pop-culture references you can fit into the game.
Want to make your game more accessible to a younger generation, Scrabble? Start donating time and money and board games to your local public schools. Then award prizes to kids who can score 30 points or more on a single turn — legitimately, without using brand names or the pseudonyms of rappers. The younger generation is far more attracted by prizes and competition than they are by proper nouns.