It’s a move that is likely to enrage purists and wordsmiths alike. For the first time in 62 years, popular word game Scrabble will change its rules to allow celebrity names and companies.
The decision by the games owner company Mattel will allow the celebrity, geographic and sports worlds to invade the game, as players would be permitted to use names such as London, brand labels including Pepsi, and star monickers such as Jordan, Beyonce, Madonna, and Shakira.
Mattel has promised that the new rules will be a “great new twist” to encourage younger players to take part. It is also considering allowing words to be spelt backwards and upwards on the board, and the placing of letters not connected to other words.
The updated board game is due to be out in July but the original version will still be available with the old rules. But the announcement has caused outrage among regular players with accusations that the company is “dumbing down” the game, the British media reported.
‘Purists’ are vowing to stick with the “tried and true” limits of the game that have stood since 1948.
Scrabble is almost like serious business for millions of Britons, so much so that teams from Scrabble leagues across the country took part in a four-day tournament over Easter, while “diehard competitors played for 27 hours without sleep during a non-stop contest running from Saturday to Sunday,” the report said.
Meanwhile, Mauro Pratesi, chairman, London Scrabble League, criticised Scrabble owner Mattel for introducing the new rules.
“They are just tarting up the game. I don’t think Scrabble people will be happy with these changes,” he said, adding that “capitalised words” would be unmanageable for serious players.
“How are you going to check if the name is a real word? We have a book of all the words that can be used and we have to be able to prove that it’s in the dictionary, that it is a real word,” he said. Pratesi said traditional players would stick to the rules set by the game’s inventor, American architect Alfred Butts.
“If Mattel wants to cash in on the game, it’s up to them but it won’t affect the Scrabble movement as a whole,” he said.
Mattel has, however, assured traditional Scrabble lovers that they will still be able to buy the original version for people who “want to continue playing the old rules”.