Thursday, April 03, 2008

Facebook: what know they of North America who only North America know?

There's a game you can play on Facebook, an application called Scramble, which involves random letters, like Scrabble tiles, on a 4X4 grid. You're given three minutes to find as many words as possible, moving up, down, backwards, forwards or diagonally from letter to letter.

Points scored increase exponentially with word length, so you get one point for a 3-letter word, 2 for 4 letters, 4 for 5 and so on. This being a culture very very big on empowerfulification, not unlike the Victorian Education Department in the 1980s, Scramble boosts your self-esteem every three minutes by flashing you up messages like this: CONGRATULATIONS! YOU GOT 139TH PLACE!

At the end of each game the screen also flashes up a list of all the possible words for that board, with green ticks next to all the ones you scored. If you've scored a word that nobody else online playing that particular game along with you found (and sometimes there are 400 people playing a single game), you get a blue star.

I am pretty ordinary at this game. I've been reading and writing the alphabet's 26 beautiful letters strictly from left to right for anything from two to sixteen hours a day, every day, since some time in the 1950s. Following letters in all directions to make a word does not sit well with me.

But I do score the occasional blue star. And I've noticed that when I get blue stars, I almost always get them in a very particular category of word, and it's nothing you'd think was obvious.

I often, for example, score words in Biblical forms and you'd think that might rack me up a few blue stars. While hath and wert are a doddle for anybody, you'd kind of expect you might score a blue star occasionally for sayeth and doeth and cometh and goeth and other such constructions that trippeth not off the tongue. But no. The overwhelming majority of Facebookers are young North Americans and they know their Bible pretty good.

But here are some words they're obviously not all that familiar with, because I've scored blue stars for all of them: NORI, SARI, GADO, OBI, HAIKU, VINDALOO.

You have to wonder.


tigtog said...

Ooh. Because of the various browser extensions I've installed which block popups etc, I haven't seen any of these amazing messages.

Perhaps I'd play it more if I had.

lauredhel said...

You got VINDALOO? We're not worthy.

Pavlov's Cat said...


Although it's true that the foody ones do leap out at me.

Another Outspoken Female said...

The games inclusion and exclusion policy is crazy. Proper nouns, foreign words and the like seem to be accepted at random. I find I pull my hair out less on the 1 minute games!

The game should carry a health warning. It is deceptively addictive!

rpg said...

'Vindaloo' is in the Bible?


Beth said...

I too struggle with the whole upside-down higgledy-piggledy-ness of scramble. It's like some sort of intelligence test, and it makes me nervous. But I love your list of blue star words. I wish more things in life had stars attached to them.

Helen said...

You mean "Obi" isn't a proper noun (as in Obi-Wan)?

(Word verification is folkd, which sounds a bit like punkd for old fold with cardies)

Pavlov's Cat said...

An obi is the sash you tie a kimono with.

'Folkd' made me think of guys with beards and long hair playing late Pete Seeger and early Bob Dylan.

Helen said...

It was a joke, Joyce. ;-)

Obviously lamer than even my average.

ThirdCat said...

none of my business really, and if she catches her death, well, it's not my responsbility, but weatherpixie is a tad underdressed, don't you's not that warm...she should probably be wearing sleeves at least

Pavlov's Cat said...

Sorry Helen -- I did indeed smile, and also thought it unlikely that you wouldn't know this. But some days I am very slow. 3C, agreed -- it seems to me that the pixie is permanently underdressed for the weather. Maybe it's because her inventor is American and knows the true meaning of the word cold.

dysthymiac said...

dear Helen, I knew your comment was a joke Joyce, and I am sure the Bible Belters wouldn't know an obi from an Oreo (oh! belt - obi, oh oh!)

but now I am raging to play for blue stars and I can't while I am a houseguest. drat and congrats to you dear Pavlov

Pavlov's Cat said...

Hee hee hee.

I think blue stars are getting harder and harder to get, too, as more players learn more words!

C said...

I always do well with 'ute'