by Michael Bedford
Published at 2023-06-28
Summer is here, and sunny days filled with poolside lounging, relaxing on the dock, or even just enjoying a nice drink on the deck, are ahead! However, it does have to rain sometimes, so when those days come around, breaking out some of these great word games could be a fun option to keep yourself (and your friends and family) occupied. And, really, there's nothing stopping you from playing Scrabble on the dock, either!
Luckily for writers and editors, word games are enjoying a surge in popularity. Over the past few years, games like Wordle and Words with Friends have taken over many editorial folks’ digital devices and social media feeds. In fact, in 2022, banking on the popularity surge that word games have been enjoying, CBS launched Lingo, a game-show-style version of Wordle hosted by RuPaul Charles. Of course, word games haven’t always been so hip and glamorous, so here are 6 options to consider if you haven’t tried them yet.
This classic board-game involves throwing a 26-sided die that has a letter of the alphabet on each side. Each round, players use the rolled letter as the first letter of words they must provide as examples for 12 assigned categories. To make the process more exhilarating and stressful for players, each round is timed by a very noisy and anxiety-inducing timer. For the dedicated Scattergories gamer, the classic board game is also available as an app for your digital device. Just try not to play at the dinner table.
Created by the Nathanson family of Rhode Island, USA, in 2006, Bananagrams is another analog favourite. Players start with a certain number of letter tiles with which they must form words in intersecting crossword format. When a player runs out of tiles, they shout “Peel!” Then, every player must take another tile and add it to their existing puzzle. The first player to run out of tiles once there are no more tiles left to draw wins. Bananagrams is a great game for people who love Scrabble but want to play a game with a faster pace. The game’s whimsical pouch also gives the game excellent travel-playing potential.
Text Twist and its sequel, Text Twist 2, are favourites of mine from years back when I would play word games on my old desktop computer. Another anagram-based word game that requires the player to come up with all the 3-or-more-letter words it’s possible to spell with a given set of letters. Although Text Twist is primarily a free browser-based game, there is an app available for Android devices if players prefer to take their Text Twist on the go.
In the interest of doing some fun research for this post, I recently downloaded the SpellTower app for my phone, and, after a surprisingly short two hours of solid research, I can’t deny that this game is addictive. A kind of mashup of Tetris and Boggle, players must find 3-or-more-letter words to remove letter-blocks from the tower. Letters left behind creep toward the top of the screen, and, like in Tetris, it’s game over if the blocks get too high. Spelltower is only available as a mobile game for Apple and Android devices.
Changing gears a bit, Balderdash is another classic word- and definition-based board game that my family used to play. Based on the older The Dictionary Game, Balderdash was created by two Torontonians in the early 1980s. Each round, players must take an unfamiliar word from provided cards and fabricate a definition for it. Along with the true definition, the fabricated definitions are submitted, and the group votes on which supplied definition is the real one. The bluffer who tricks the most players wins the round.
Another word game that tests players’ vocabularies rather than their proficiency with anagrams or their word-finding abilities, Taboo requires players to get each other to guess specific words provided on cards. In addition to not being able to tell the other players the word, though, players are additionally provided with a list of related words they’re also forbidden from using. So, for a word like “fireplace,” the words “fire,” “hearth,” “mantel,” and other related words might be off limits. If a player can get another player to guess their word without using any taboo words, they win the round. And, you guessed it, that good old anxiety-inducing timer and buzzer are included.
Like its classic board-game rival Scattergories, Taboo is also available to use on Android and Apple devices with apps available through each respective company’s app store.
With all the options on offer, fans of word games have their work cut out for them. Those high scores aren’t going to set themselves. Now, back to playing SpellTower…
Michael Bedford is a freelance editor, copywriter, and performer living in Stoney Creek, Ontario. He can be reached at https://mgb-editor.com/.