Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Lex Loofah

I really like on-line scrabble-type games and so play Lexulous on Facebook rather a lot, as I think I've mentioned before. I used to venture onto the discussion board as well, but it's full of card-carrying maniacs.

Well, people with grudges against other posters that have evidently been on-going for many moons. One starts a call-out thread and then they swarm all over each other hurling insults, reviving old battles and nursing petty hatreds. It's quite amusing, alarming and unexpected in connection to what you would imagine to be a mild-mannered sort of game. I stopped posting as it seemed clear that side-taking and being co-opted unwittingly into someone's agenda were the only options. I hadn't noticed these undercurrents to begin with, having started joining in on the word-game threads and lexulous advice threads, but as I began to participate more, found the seamy side exposed.

There were frequently threads about poor sports, railing against people who'd called them cheats or appeared to be using word generators, and while I was posting there I always thought, "Ah, you can't know someone is using a word generator: they might just have better vocab than you, be more practised than you*, have had a lucky run of letters, or have taken a risk and surprised themselves with a word." And as for people accusing them of cheating, well, at least you know you weren't if you weren't. But for the first time ever I've been accused of cheating and I quite understand the desire to post stroppily about it**.

From his point of view I suppose two bingos in three moves looks suspicious but he has no idea how chuffed I was to have spotted those! 'Placated' and 'coattail' are not unusual words, (while I would be tempted to hyphenate the latter usually, it seemed worth a go) and both words were the products of my own dear brain assembling the letters. It was a bit of a slap in the face when I'd been quite pleased with myself. They were not on big scoring tiles either, just your basic bingos scoring in the 50s: not as though they were on triple word scores or anything. So he could have pulled it back if he'd continued the match: a high-scoring bingo of his own or even a well-placed two-letter word can totally turn a game of Lex.

The man is a total stranger and him thinking I cheat shouldn't bother me. And it doesn't, much, just a tiny tingle of irritation down my spine.

* I used to be amazed by Countdown contestants' ability to spot words, but I know there are memory tricks (well, rather skills) that speed up the process. Certain combinations of letters you can learn and just practice.
**Hence posting here stroppily instead! Which is infinitely better, of course.

No comments: