OK, I’ll admit it: If you scrolled through the apps on my iPhone, you’d know I love a good word game. As someone who spends my days penning paragraphs, threading together words like pearls on a string, I’ve always been drawn to the Scrabbles and crosswords of life. And it turns out that as a writer, that might be a good thing.
According to Daphne Gray-Grant, “Words are the building blocks of writing, and while we need to do serious work with them—like write brochures, produce Web copy and churn out reports—we can also learn from playing a few games with them. You know, take play seriously—like kids do.”
What do you think? Could engaging in regular word games help you in the daily work of writing Web copy for a Wheaton dentist or sharpen your mind when creating SEO articles about dry topics like anemometer fume hood testing? Could a few rounds of online Boggle fuel creativity? Is there serious value to be found in play?
In either case, whether you play games for pure pleasure or intentionally to stay sharp, you can’t deny it: they’re fun. Here are some of my favorite word games, designed to sharpen your writing skills and help you relax.
Classic games for writers
- Scrabble: The old standard. I don’t know what it is, but most writers like Scrabble, the game of building words on a grid-like board.
- Balderdash: This board game challenges your vocabulary knowledge with bluffing and trivia. One player gives a word’s real definition and the others bluff with false ones—the player has to determine which is right.
- Boggle™: Build words from 16 random letters, using letters that are adjacent. The more and longer your words, the better.
- Crossword puzzles: Is there anything more iconic than a writer loving crossword puzzles? Whether it’s the Saturday New York Times or an online version, crossword puzzles stretch the mind to think through clues and discover unique terms for saying things.
- The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest: Practice your most witty one-liners and try to earn some serious bragging rights by playing this writerly game from The New Yorker. Based on a given drawing, participants send in their clever captions, with winners chosen by the New Yorker staff.
Word-centric smartphone apps
- Words with Friends: Available on Facebook, Androids, iPads and iPhones, this wildly popular and addictive game lets you play a type of Scrabble with friends and other users.
- Hanging with Friends: Remember Hangman? Play it on your phone through Hanging with Friends, a game of strategy, competition and interaction.
- WhirlyWord: See how many words you can find from six letters. Unlike Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends, you play this game solo rather than against opponents, but it’s a great way to stretch your word-making ability.
Computer word games
- Free Rice: Test your vocabulary with this nonprofit website that donates grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program for every correct answer.
- Text Twist: In this Boggle-esque computer game, try to make as many words as you can from a set of letters.
- Etymologic: This online game calls itself the toughest word game on the Web. It tests your knowledge of word origins through a series of 10 etymology puzzles.
Do you play any of these games? What other word games do you love?