Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Games With Dead People

In my spare time after midnight, I can usually be caught holding my iPhone in the dark trying to come up with a seven-letter word that will use both the TL and TW squares to maximize my score on a very simple game downloaded from iTunes. Yes, I play a game that is essentially Scrabble for Social Media, or what is also known as Words With Friends.

For full effect, download “Word Up” by Cameo and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

Words With Friends can be addicting at times. Especially when you are as good as I am at destroying your competition. Seriously, I am that amazing at Words With Friends. Go ahead and challenge me and I’ll beat your face so hard into your 4-inch screen you’ll cry pixels. I am that good at Words With Friends. Ask Sara Sheen, Kelli Young, or Jeremiah Rawson, I can’t be toppled.

Now don’t judge me too soon, this post is not about inflating my ego and bragging to you about my linguistic creative skills with seven-letter words. This post is about a disturbing suggestion that the most advanced form of artificial intelligence offered when I recently logged on to play Words With Friends.

You see, to generate more traffic and more advertising revenue, Words With Friends will often prompt you to begin playing more games with the people you know. Therefore cutting into your interpersonal communication time, lowering your social interaction, and more prone to seeing pop-up ads on your phone. As I logged in to play the other night, I couldn’t help but be a little stunned at the recommendation that WWF was giving me; which was to begin a game with my Great-Aunt Barbara.

Who is dead.

Yes kids, you read that correctly, Social Media Scrabble suggested that I start a game with a woman who was pumped with formaldehyde and buried in the ground over a year ago. That is what is wrong with artificial intelligence. It isn’t right all the time. It thinks I’m on the same grammatical level as a deceased Grandma. What’s going to happen next? Is my Great-Grandpa going to challenge me to a game of SongPop from beyond the grave?

What’s worse is that this game thinks we play at the same pace. Go ahead, look at the picture again, the caption says, “Start a game with Barbara. Plays at your pace!” How slow are they assuming that I play? It’s not like I wait six months in between moves. Plus, are they taking into consideration that I am actually not a potential zombie? I’m still walking around kicking. Therefore it has no right in comparing me to a lady whose internal organs and brainwaves are no longer functioning!

Now I love my Aunt Barbara, rest her soul, and I understand that the marketing techniques for Words With Friends are simply using a basic algorithm to randomly select profiles from my Facebook Friends list and then plug them into game prompts for me, ultimately so they can generate more revenue from 15-second ads that pop up in between turns; but honestly is there any team of social media researchers out there that might give more of a millisecond thought about whether or not they should add dead relatives as potential opponents?

But then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe my Great-Aunt Barbara didn’t actually die. Maybe she just faked her own death, viewing, funeral, burial, and potato casserole buffet all so she could peacefully lay in the Kaysville Cemetery in a velvet cushioned coffin and play Words With Friends all day long, scaring the wits out of all of her loved ones when they get prompts to play with someone who they think kicked the bucket last year!

For some reason, that sounds like the plotline for the next Stephenie Meyers novel.

What do you think?


  1. hey. I occasionally win... ok, twice. but you spelled my name wrong... which means I default win every other game.

  2. I can confirm Brock's dominance.