Thursday, January 22, 2009
The New Yorker published a very interesting article in their last issue on the ever-so-popular board game Scrabble.
Being that Scrabble is one of my favorite board games and sometimes makes me addicted to it, I was very interested to read many of the fascinating facts behind its history and statistics. I am not surprised to see how many people follow behind this game like a cult, especially considering online gamers. I am just impressed that people are so connected to a game about our language and using words.
From what I was reading, some people get really intense, go to tournaments, or seek out playing other great players around the world. They play each other based on high scores and memorize word lists to use for game strategy. They use words like aali, aerate, aioli, zin, taj, huic, etc. I bet they don't even know what most of these words mean! Are they even real words...?
Does it ever get too intense? Or is it good that people are fostering a love for the language that challenges their minds and expands their vocabularies?
It is quite addictive.
Here is some interesting information found from the article:
-The game was introduced in the early 1950s.
-An early Scrabble advertisement showed a wedding party stampeding out of a church. The bridge explains to the clergyman that the toy store next door has a new shipment.
-Between 1 and 2 million sets are sold yearly.
-1 in 3 American households own a Scrabble game
-30,000 games begin somewhere in the world every hour
-Said Scrabble fans: Barack Obama, the Queen of England, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, Duke Ellington, Meadow Soprano, Dustin Hoffman, Maya Angelou, Justin Timberlake, Chris Martin, Richard Nixon, and Ludacris.
-Some people play hip-hop Scrabble using words like crunk and hizzo.
-The second year that Scrabble was on the market, it sold 2,413 sets.
-Media sources that have used Scrabble in their programming: Rosemary's Baby, She's Gotta Have It, The Simpsons
-Scrabble sets are available in 28 other foreign languages
-Scrabble used to be called Lexico, and it was created by Alfred Mosher Butts, a young architect from New York during the Depression.
-He eventually earned a million dollars from his creation.
-The idea for Scrabble (Lexico) came from an Edgar Allen Poe short story, "The Gold Bug," where the hero has to decode a cipher that protects the hiding place of a pirate treasure by correlating its symbols with the alphabet.
-He changed the name to Criss-Cross Words in 1938 and was rejected twice for selling this game.
-In 1952, Jack Strauss, owner of Macy's, bought the game/rights from Butts. By 1954, 3,798,555 units of Scrabble were sold, an estimated hundred million sets in 21 countries.
Intense information. It's funny how much can be behind something as small as a board game. It's still wildly successful today--games like this and Monopoly are such excellent ideas because they can be carried down through generations and continue its popularity and excitement for years to come.
So, what do you think of Scrabble?