Scrabble makes ‘woke’ change to entice more Gen Z players

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For the first time in 75 years, Mattel is making a major change to the iconic board game Scrabble — and touting a “No More Scoring” gameplay option.

The new launch is a double-sided version of the famous board game — one side with the original game for those who want to stick to the long-time traditional version, and one side with a “less competitive” version to appeal to Gen Z gamers, the New York Post reports.

The flip side of the classic game, called Scrabble Together, will include helper cards, use a simpler scoring system, be quicker to play and allow people to play in teams.

“The makers of Scrabble found that younger people, Gen Z people, don’t quite like the competitive nature of Scrabble,” Gyles Brandreth, who co-hosts the language podcast Something Rhymes With Purple, told BBC Radio 4 Today.

“They want a game where you can simply enjoy language, words, being together and having fun creating words.”

Scrabble Together, which is now available to buy in Australia, is marketed for those who find the classic game to be intimidating or for people who have ever thought “word games aren’t for me”.

“Scrabble has truly stood the test of time as one of the most popular board games in history, and we want to ensure the game continues to be inclusive for all players,” Ray Adler, vice president, global head of games for Mattel, said in a statement to The Post.

“For anyone who’s ever thought ‘word games aren’t for me’, or felt a little intimidated by the classic game, Scrabble Together mode is an ideal option.

“Scrabble Together Mode continues to celebrate the wonder of words just as the Classic version does, but thanks to its exciting new co-operative and dynamic gameplay, it’s more accessible and brings people together.”

However, some naysayers objected to the changes, calling it “Scrabble for Snowflakes” and “Woke Scrabble” on X.

“What’s the world coming to,” one person said.

So what’s new exactly? In addition to a dual-sided board, there are helper cards, which provide assistance, prompts and clues and can be selected to match the player’s challenge level of their choice.

In the new version, scoring is a thing of the past — now all one has to do is finish a goal and collect the goal card.

Goal cards include challenges such as: “Play a horizontal word,” “play a three-letter word” or “play a word that touches the edge of the board.”

The player who completes 20 challenges is the winner, while the player who used all their helper cards without completing a challenge is the loser.

Once 20 goal cards are completed, the game is over — that’s it.

Mattel says the new protocols and scoring — no need to do math for each turn — will offer “shorter games.”

“The game speaks to a trend in younger people who want to avoid competitive games, instead favouring teamwork and collaboration working towards a fun goal together,” Brett Smitheram, current UK number 1 and 2016 World Scrabble Champion, said in a statement.

A Mattel spokesperson told CNN that Scrabble Together will soon be available in Europe, but won’t be available in the US since it doesn’t hold licensing in America. Hasbro produces Scrabble in the US and Canada.

The Post has reached out to Hasbro for comment.

Scrabble, which is one of the world’s best-known board games, has been around since 1938 and has added hundreds of new eligible words to its dictionary as the years have gone on. But, until now, the board has stayed the same all these years. The change comes ahead of National Scrabble Day on April 13.

“Scrabble is one of the world’s best-known word games, bringing people together over a board for over 75 years. The way we use words is constantly evolving and so is Scrabble, which is why the iconic game has created a second side to the board that is collaborative and faster-paced to make gameplay more accessible,” Mattel said in a press release.

New research found that almost half of Scrabble players have tried to make up a new word to try to win a game, and 75 per cent of Scrabble players aged 25-34 have had to look up whether or not a word is real.

“We play the original game, but change is inevitable,” Brandreth said.

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and has been republished with permission.



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