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Zynga’s Words with Friends: Geeking out on the DL

Kristina Eastham | Digitaria
By Kristina Eastham , Digital Strategist | @kreastham
Jun 17, 2011

There were times when I cursed Zynga’s name for polluting my Facebook news feed with Farmville updates. But I have long since let bygones be bygones (while un-friending anyone who plays Farm-, Frontier-, Gaga-, or any other “villes”), and now wish Zynga good luck on their upcoming IPO. My change of heart comes following their creation of the best game ever: Words with Friends.

I love clever wordplay, but it has degenerated into an underrated skill in a world where “text speak” has replaced eloquently written self-expression and people communicate in 140 characters or fewer.  Words with Friends is the antidote, a little gem posing as a multi-player Scrabble-like app, a way for “Word Nerds” to share a game and geek out on the down-low.

How do I love Words with Friends? Let me count the ways:

  • I love having a reason more rewarding than email to compulsively check my iPhone.
  • I love getting  my Friday nights back. No more evenings spent lying to my “cool” friends and hiding behind closed doors with fellow liberal arts majors, huddled around a Scrabble board.
  • I love the brilliancy of a multi-player only game to instigate a huge word-of-mouth phenomenon.
  • I love being reminded how less is more --  a strategically placed “zoo” on a triple word score is much better than low-scoring, but seemingly fancy words like “toured,” “adopted” and “ashore.”
  • I love realizing how many of my friends, even the scientists and engineers, are huge word geeks. All it took was posting my WWF username on Facebook, Twitter and my Gmail status and I consistently have 15–20 WWF games going at a given time.
  • I love expanding my “Q without U”-word vocabulary. Words I’ve learned lately include: qoid (a Muslim tribal leader–not to be confused with quod which is British slang for a prison); qat (a leaf on the shrub catha edulis); qoph (the 19th letter of the Hebrew alphabet); and qanat (a gently sloping, underground irrigation tunnel).

Take it from a girl whose favorite online videos are Merriam-Webster’s “Ask the Editor” clips: If Zynga’s IPO leads to the funding of more Geek games, their quest for empire will only continue to grow.