Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The games people play: Or the simplest ideas are often the best.

Years ago I worked for Hasbro, one of the major players in the toy and games business, and owners of Monopoly and Cluedo amongst other brilliant games.  Way back when, we ran a campaign called "Get Together Games Night" which was designed to remind people how much fun it is to sit down around a table and play a game.  It's a sociable thing game playing. It can be ruthless, strategic or just silly and fun but it's a great shared experience.

Hasbro have done a generally good job over the years of embracing the transition of game playing from board games around a table to online games and last week launched Monopoly City Streets, a neat mash up of Monopoly and Google Maps. If you haven't already checked it out do.

Then a year or two ago Facebook App, Scrabulous, (nothing to do with Hasbro who own worldwide rights to Scrabble outside the UK) spread like wildfire and a whole new crowd of people started enjoying online game-playing. It was great fun, giving you the opportunity to play several games at once with different friends, all on your own time / terms.  The Hasbro legal team weren't quite so chuffed about the intellectual property infringement and the whole thing ended up in a messy legal wrangle that thankfully now has been settled. Scrabulous is now called Lexulous.

I've worked in I.P too, so I can see their point, but with such enormous global engagement with the concept I think they should have been smarter about how they went about it.

On that note.... I bet board game manufacturer Drummond Park are kicking themselves this week.  They make a great word-based board game called Articulate. If you haven't played it, then invest, it's great.

However, some other smart cookies have taken the notion of word-based games and crossed it with Twitter to create a fun game called Artwiculate .

The premise is simple: There's a word for the day and they encourage people to tweet something including it. The site then scrapes Twitter for the word and displays all the mentions making fun reading for those of you who have yet to join the twitterverse.

For those of us that like words it's a nice daily challenge to have, motivated by nothing other than stimulation of the grey cells, and perhaps just a touch of competitiveness amongst fellow word-erati.

Go play.

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