Opinion: Game on – or is it?


I have been lecturing my adult son about playing so many video games. I don’t think he was listening, so next time I’ll wait until he takes his headset off.

I told him what a waste of time video games are, and how little you benefit intellectually. Plus, it involves absolutely no exercise. I was going to tell him all that, but I played golf all that day because carts were half price.

I have an addiction, as well. Not to golf, not to nicotine, not to prescription drugs, not to Uncle Ralph’s Hard Lemonadenot even to pickleball (but I am getting close on this one).

I am addicted to Scrabble.

Not Words with Friends. I don’t like that game. It involves friends, which is exactly what I am trying to avoid when I seclude myself in the basement every night for an hour. I also don’t mean the board game that is up in your hall closet wedged between your winter galoshes and the Monopoly game. And I also don’t mean the Scrabble game that you flung in your basement crawl space because you’re missing a J and a V.

I’m addicted to the type of Scrabble that I downloaded on my computer. Oh, it’s the same concept, but in this case, you are playing Noah Webster and someone I assume is his obsessive-compulsive sister, Merriam.

Good luck.

In this game, you can control the difficulty, but with a degree in English, I’ll be darned if I’ll compete as a Novice or Beginner. Instead, I check off Expert, at which point the computer runs a program that has beaten all but 200 Scrabble players in America. I wonder who these people are and if their wives and children would like them to come up from the basement occasionally to shower.

I realize I’m in over my head. Just before writing this column, I was trounced by the computer. Here were some of the words that beat me: promial, zootier, hewable, zlote, schalene.

Every time I make a word that’s worth more than 30 points, a nerdy little figure pops up on the screen and seduces me with adulation: GREAT JOB! EXCELLENT MOVE! I’m a sucker for this because my 43rd wedding anniversary is coming up and I’ve only heard GREAT JOB maybe six times during our marriage. I can’t remember ever hearing EXCELLENT MOVE! And I’m counting our honeymoon.

My son has become concerned about my obsession. He promised me the other day that if I gave up Scrabble, he’d cut down on his video game playing.

“Just say the word, Dad,” he told me. “Just say the word and video games are history.”

The question is: What is the word? And how many points will I get?