While I may be late to the party, I recently started playing Words With Friends. While the game can create some interesting situations (e.g. I recently sat across from a friend at a café, as we silently traded turns from our smartphones – neither of us spoke a word to one another for quite some time!), it also has the power to connect long lost friends and discover new people who share a common interest.
It took me (and my family) 10 minutes before we were all hooked. Words With Friends is awesome. And here’s why.
1) It’s Universal.
You don’t have to be an English or language major to enjoy playing. In fact, words (and images, too) are the common language by which we share life’s experiences. While some games have difficulty crossing cultural boundaries, Words With Friends can be enjoyed in any language or culture. I’m interested to see whether Zynga expands usage of the game to other countries, languages and cultures.
2) It’s cross-platform.
You can play Words With Friends on iOS, Android and Facebook. In my household, we had games going across iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch among family members. And we also had contests going with friends, who were playing on Android phones and tablets. Several members of my parents’ generation are on Facebook (including my parents) – so I have the option of playing with them, too. And isn’t that an interesting statement in itself, where the major platforms include mobile operating systems and … FACEBOOK.
3) It’s cross-generational.
To my earlier point about word games being universal, I found it interesting that my daughter’s generation, who frequently use iPods and tablets, had an interest in playing the game with their parents. On a Saturday evening, my family had the following combination of games going on with another family (we were in our respective homes):
- Adults facing adults: 4 games.
- Adults facing kids: 2 games.
- Kids facing kids: 1 game.
So that’s seven simultaneous games across two families. Words With Friends is the new “Saturday night at the movies.”
4) It’s at a comfortable pace.
Unlike other games where there’s a “time and place,” the pace of Words With Friends is entirely dictated by the two players. And usually, that’s completely fine with both players. My “friend” could take 2 days to make a move, and I wouldn’t mind so much (though I may give him a call or send him a text message after 12 hours). Remember how excited you were to receive a new email, during the early days of email? I get the same excitement when I receive the “It’s your move” notification in this game.
5) It’s the “new social networking.”
While I’ll continue to enjoy reading people’s thoughts on Twitter and checking out friends’ purchases and song selections on Facebook, I think the “new social networking” is about shared experiences. What better a way to “network” with someone than to share the experience of word battles, which take place over the course of a day (or more).
Words With Friends has a convenient chat area, which means you can further share in the experience by passing compliments back and forth. Or, you can lament how the word “za” could be worth 31 points (and who even knew “za” was a word?). The “new social networking” is going to be less about status updates and more about in-experience updates.
Bonus reason: the new check-in (sort of).
I have ongoing Words With Friends contests with my wife. I often receive the “it’s your turn” notification (on my iPhone) during her commutes. In the morning when it’s my turn, I know that she’s safely boarded her commuter train. In the early evening when it’s my turn, I know that she’s on the way home. Isn’t that neat?
Thanks, Words With Friends, for the shared experiences you’ve enabled among family members and friends. To date, I’ve played with people that are geographically quite close to me. The real power, however, is staying with touch with people on the other side of the world through a shared experience.
And with that, I must be off – it’s my turn!