Managing Editor Will Introduces One of His Favorite Obsessions

We can call this a preamble. I’m going to be writing about words and, subsequently, about Words With Friends in whatever capacity makes sense from a literary or self-indulgent standpoint. But first, as far as first posts and preambles go, here’s some history about this lovely app that makes normal people think about words and try to create words that have always existed but they have never known.

The iPhone app Words with Friends was released in July 2009. It wasn’t until the Spring of 2011 that I accepted the game. There had been Scrabble-esque social media games in the past including the popular Facebook game Scrabulous. Scrabulous was subsequently sued by Scrabble, and all those games I’d invested in went down the drain.

Reluctant I was. But enough of my friends and family were already into the game that I downloaded it for free. The look is simple, and since it’s only multiplayers, the game allows you to access Facebook friends and Twitter followers (you can also play random people, but that feels like…walking up to a stranger with a board game…)

A bit more history: Words with Friends’ popularity spiked a few months after it released, as this excerpt from a TechCrunch post tells us:

“Finally, in July 2009, the studio released Words With Friends. …And then John Mayer happened. On October 5 2009, Mayer tweeted that Words With Friends “is the new Twitter.” The application promptly surged in popularity, and has since ridden on its inherent virality to grow to where it is today — as more players signed up, they’d tell their friends to join so that they could play each other.”

The main difference from other Scrabble-esque (even Scrabble itself) apps was the interface…

“…Of course, Words With Friends was hardly the first such word game on the market, so how did it catch on?  The Bettners chalk this up to the user experience.  Whereas the official Scrabble iPhone app forced users to trudge through a few menus before they could access its multiplayer features, Words puts your multiplayer games front-and-center. You can boot up the app and be in a game in just a few seconds, which the Bettners say is key.”

So that’s the gist of it. The next 383 posts will be about how good it feels to beat my in-laws, what it means to make up words and win and how you should feel dirty for making up words that you didn’t know actually existed. The rest of the 383 posts may bore you, but hopefully this history lesson interests you enough to download the app or grab the nearest Scrabble board.

Happy triple letter triple word!