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Word play goes desi

Former IIT–B students develop Scrabble-like game in 11 Indian languages.

entertainment Updated: Jan 14, 2011 18:27 IST
Sneha Mahale
Sneha Mahale
Hindustan Times

It all started with one thought. Why are there so few Hindi word games? Thus came about Aksharit, an Indian language version of Scrabble. Developed by former IIT-B students Rajat Dhariwal and Madhumita Haldar with Rajat’s younger brother Manuj, the game is all about word-building, using the same rules as Scrabble.

“My brother Manuj came up with the idea. We did some research and realised that while Scrabble is available in 30 world languages, it isn’t available in any Indian language,” says Dhariwal, co-creator, Aksharit. The trio decided to develop the game first in Hindi, the national language. Later, they modified it to suit different age groups and even launched mobile and digital versions.

However, creating it in Hindi wasn’t easy. “While English has 26 alphabets, Hindi has nearly 600 characters,” says Dhariwal. There are very few difficult alphabets in English, like Z or a Q. In Hindi, these akshars go up to 17. So, to get the scoring right, the team analysed Hindi newspapers to understand which letters were used the most, and assigned points accordingly.

There was also the problem of matras (indicates emphasis on vowels). Dhariwal says, “Solving that was the toughest.” However, he is unwilling to reveal specifics of the game, as they are awaiting a patent.

Meanwhile, the trio are readying to release Aksharit in 10 other languages, including Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi and Bengali. Dhariwal says, “The product samples will be available by the end of this month, and we will market them soon.”

Buy Aksharit, at 080-40989792. Nokia users can download for free from the Ovi Store

First Published: Jan 12, 2011 12:55 IST