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Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

War of words

Just for fun.

The London Times (see article) reports that the makers of Scrabble (Hasbro and Mattel) are pleading with Facebook to remove an online application called "Scrabulous" from the social networking site, arguing that it infringes copyright, and may have a bearing on the viability of the actual Scrabble game. I don't know what this may mean for other online versions of Scrabble.

Reportedly, 600,000 users play this online version of the game every day; four times the number registered for it. This has promoted the board game and sales may rise. Long-time Scrabble fans, including the Association of British Scrabble Players, think that this is a good development: anything that gets young people playing the game and developing language is a good thing. The UK just had its Open championships.

Some argue that applications such as Scrabulous is one of the reasons for the popularity of Facebook, with its 39 million members worldwide. The originators of the online game (Rajat and Jayant Agarawalla) are not complaining and are reportedly making US$25,000 a month from advertising on the application.

Once again, we see how the Internet has been a spawning pool for further lucrative innovations. I don't know what other development in the past 50 years has been as instrumental in leading to such a wide range of new industries and activities, whether useful or useless.

The French version of the game has just been highlighted as a possible boost to the west African country of Senegal, which will host the World Francophone Scrabble Championship in July (see another report in The Times). The Sports Minister has declared the event a national priority and the president has "demanded" a victory. Senegalese players won three titles at an international event in Quebec, Canada, last year. A ten-day training camp is planned to enable the champions to sharpen their concentration and foster a team spirit. (I can imagine them doing finger push ups). Ironically, it was someone who plies my trade, Ndongo Samba Sylla, a 29-year-old economist, who was Senegal’s first international Scrabble champion. Certainly, if Senegal does well and the tournament is well organized that will do much to help dispel stereotypes about sub-Saharan Africa.

Scrabble is hugely popular in my household and my wife thought the perfect birthday present for a niece and nephew of hers was to get them a Scrabble dictionary! Games have ended in dispute over whether words exist or not, and certain styles of play that block double and triple word or letter scores, what I call "beggar thy neighbour" plays, can lead to steely glares or upturned wine glasses. We enjoy the game but have never gone as far as the couple pictured here.There are few other games other than cards and dominoes that can be played almost anywhere, anytime.

All of this leaves me scrabbling for words to describe what I think. I would just say to Hasbro-Mattel to ease up.

1 comment:

ESTEBAN AGOSTO REID said...

I also enjoy the game of scrabbles, but chess,domino, and monopoly are my favourites.But these days one is so busy and overextended that I cannot even find the time for any of these games.RESPECT!!