Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This probably irritates me more than it should. . .

Oh, ick:

"Mattel Changes Rules of Scrabble for First Time Since 1948":

The official rules of Scrabble are being changed for the first time in 62 years, to allow the names of celebrities, places and companies to be used, The Times of London reported Monday.

When Alfred Butts, an American architect, invented and trademarked the game in 1948, the use of proper nouns was banned. But Mattel, the game manufacturer that owns the distribution rights to Scrabble, has announced plans to make a series of radical changes.

Players will now be permitted to use proper nouns, which will enable high scores from celebrities such as Jordan, Beyoncé and Shakira. Mattel is also considering allowing players to spell words backwards and upwards on the board and place words unconnected to other pieces.

A spokeswoman for the company said Monday that the new rules would be a “great new twist” on the classic game. “The layout, the colors of the board, the rules and the game itself have all remained unchanged for more than 60 years,” she said. “These changes are the biggest news for Scrabble lovers in the history of the game and will provide a great new twist on the old formula.

“We believe that people who are already fans will enjoy the changes but some people will want to continue playing the old way so we will still be selling a board with the original rules.”

What are they thinking?!

I'm surprisingly annoyed by this, considering that it's been a while since  the last time we played Scrabble, but it just seems wrong.  If you haven't changed your rules for more then 60 years, and you're still considered one of the great classic boardgames, it's probably a sign that you got it right.  In other words, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Also: Who is to determine which people qualify as "celebrities"?  I assume that'll be in the new rules, somewhere.  And for that matter, why only allow the names of celebrities (and places and companies)?  Why not allow all proper nouns?  (I think it's the celebrity-worship aspect of this that grates most on my nerves...)

We can only hope that the new rules will cause so much outrage and disgust among those who actually play the game that the people behind this change (who were looking, no doubt, to create some buzz-- which I guess they've succeeded in) will see the error of their ways and relent.

. . . On the other hand, some of the existing rules for Scrabble already drive me crazy-- mainly the way the game accepts so many bizarre (so-called) words that people (the pros) only know because they memorized them from the official Scrabble dictionary.  (No, in fact I'm not impressed by your ability to memorize a bunch of fake words.)