Sunday, May 11, 2008

The seedy side of Scrabulous that I'd totally missed

I'm feeling really stupid, that as the Commissioner of the Twitterverse Scrabulous World Championship Series, that I didn't know that Scrabulous had a secret side. You can imagine my shock when I come to learn that it has this whole other "purpose": How a stuffy board game became became a sleazy internet pickup joint:

Because on its surface, Scrabble is no Twister. Its board is a prosaic, melancholy wash of pallid blues, reds and grays. Opportunities to maneuver are restrictive (no saucy diagonals allowed). And scoring is banal — most letters are worth an underwhelming one point. Most mood-killing of all, the game is slow and it's long — a ten-minute wait between turns isn't uncommon. Combine a fireside game of Scrabble with a bottle of Chianti, and you and your date will be asleep before the first triple-word score.

This monotonous pace, however, is perfect for an online game of smutty Scrabulous. For many players, once the lewd dialogue begins, it supercedes the game itself. Long stretches of time between turns mean ample chance to hone one's dirty talk. "I don't think people really pay attention to the game once the flirting has begun," says Jack, a serious player with an impressive rating of 1,500+. He often seizes upon his opponent's distraction to win the game and further increase his rank. And he appreciates the metronomic rhythm that regulates and compliments the natural back-and-forth of verbal seduction. "The excitement comes from the fact that you have to take turns to flirt: your turn, my turn. You have to wait until the other person has completed their turn before you get in your next line."

I had no idea. My in-game chats have been restricted to things like, "nice play", and "where you been?" I'd been living under the "comfy" assumption that Scrabulous was all about the game. One should never be surprised when it comes to the internets. Live and learn.

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