Words With Friends: Review

Words With Friends. One of the top apps for your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch can hardly be called a game when compared to my current stack which revolves around Fallout 3, Dead Space and Lego Batman. However, it’s US$2.99 and is occasionally fun, so I figured it was worth talking about for minute or two.

Words With Friends is very similar to Scrabble (which I hate) in almost every way imaginable, expect in a few key areas:

  1. Types of words allowable are unclear. Many of my random opponents have used foreign (NOT commonly used in English) words against me. While I’m generally fine with this, it bothers me that I can’t use certain foreign words BACK (I DID manage to use ‘Jihad’ against someone- sadly, they most likely didn’t know the definition).  In the rules it’s stated that proper nouns are not allowed, but that’s about it. When it comes to any type of game, knowing the boundaries is a good thing.
  2. Racial slurs seem to be fine. I was raised in a multicultural family, and I was raised to be polite. We never used racial slurs against others, even if we were angry. Although I know other people were not raised the same way as me, it still boggles the mind that in this type of game 1.)People would even USE racial slurs, and 2.)That said racial slurs are actually ALLOWED. So far I’ve had “Dego” and “Yid” used against me. I’m curious if “nigger” and “kike” are allowed as well, but the though of actually trying to play those words fills me with a deep sense of shame.
  3. You can’t challenge an opponent’s word. There have been many, many times when one of my random opponents have played words that are not actually words – English or otherwise. I know because I looked these “words” up in several dictionaries. With this game, it’s very easy to keep trying words until something works, since you can’t submit anything unless it’s “acceptable”. It would be nice to penalize players for using non-words when YOU catch them.

Screen shot of Words With Friends from Newtoy, Inc.'s site

Other than that, Words With Friends is a good, mostly mindless time waster with a reasonable price tag. I’ve certainly got my three bucks worth out of it (there is a free version, but it has annoying ads that pop up. If you don’t mind this, then FREE is a pretty good price). When I had jury duty a few weeks ago, it kept me occupied for several hours.

Games can take anywhere from a few hours to several days or even a week, which is why it’s a good casual game. Funnily, some people will get pissy if you don’t move fast enough. On more than one occasion, my opponents have sent me snarky messages demanding that I hurry up (you are alerted approximately 2 minutes after your opponent’s move).  Luckily, most people that I’ve played with have been pretty nice or indifferent.

Starting a game is easy – you can invite any friend (providing that they have the game) through e-mail address, facebook, twitter, or phone number. If you don’t have any friends that play, or like playing several games at once you have the option to go against a random opponent. Sadly, if you play against a random opponent who is very slow in moving, you can’t drop out of a game unless it’s your turn. If it’s NOT your turn, you must wait 8 days for them to be dropped automatically. This isn’t a huge issue, but I find it annoying.

With all that said and done, Words With Friends gets 3 stars because of its inconsistency. It’s a good deal at $2.99 as it’s usually fun and there is some strategy involved, but not knowing where your boundaries lie is aggravating beyond belief. PLUS, trying to find the rules for this game is more difficult than it has any right to be.

For anyone that HAS played Words With Friends before, check out this link from the genius folks at Penny Arcade! Also, for those that play, feel free to start a game with me – user name is Maxose.



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