I discovered online games way back when the internet first came to India. It
began with my father coming home one day and showing my mother and me a new
website called Acrophobia. In today’s hi-tech Sims-graphic type world, it
probably would seem quite basic. It had a black template with lots of flashing
letters and the object of the game was to come up with a wacky acronym for the
letters given to you. For instance, OMEG could be expanded to Old Men Eat Grass,
or something. Your acronym was then put on a board with other users and everyone
voted on the best one.
After a while, if you visited the same room often enough, you built up a community. You had friends online. Most of the people on Acrophobia were American, and they were probably playing from work, because I was online around three or four in the morning. But, sadly, one day I went to look for the website and it was gone. Dead. Page not found.
I didn’t grieve too long over Acrophobia, because by then I had a new online multiplayer game love. Isketch. Isketch was so awesome, it was like Pictionary, except much cooler because it was on the internet. You got a word, drew it and the others had to guess. Pretty soon, I graduated from the ‘easy’ game rooms to a tougher one—where you had to guess at phrases instead of words.
But my isketch love didn’t last long. I never was a great artist with a mouse, plus by then I had found Psychobabble, a magnetic poetry game, where you rearranged letters to make a word according to a theme. I got really good at it, and was often in the top rung of players. And one day, like all games I love, Psychobabble was retired too, and no matter how many Google searches I ran, I never could find it again.
Which brings me to a story I read this morning about Scrabulous facing the prospects of having to close down. Once bitten (or in my case, twice bitten), I was reluctant to give my heart to Scrabulous. It didn’t have the drama of Acrophobia or the oh-my-god-time-is-running-out thrill of isketch. It didn’t even have the pretty background of Psychobabble. I didn’t chat much with my fellow users except a terse ‘gl’ for ‘good luck’ or ‘gg’ for ‘good game.’ I preferred real time Scrabble honestly, and the only time I used it was to challenge my real life friends to a match across cities. But still, the fact that they were thinking of taking it down made me most upset. First they take away all my favourite games and when I’m flirting with Scrabulous, thinking of making it my new lover, they take that away too? What’s next? No more gmail? No more blogs? No more internet?
I realize I’m being a bit of a drama queen at this moment, but seriously the argument put forward by the creators of Scrabble seems a little hollow. There are several word building games out there and this isn’t Scrabble, it’s SCRABULOUS. That’s Scrabble plus fabulous. If Mattel can come up with a similar way to play Scrabble with my friend in Germany, then by all means they should bring it on instead of all this talk of closing down. The internet is a wonderful place and its 21st century definition is most certainly ‘communication’. Let’s work with that.