Monday, April 27, 2009

Now you can piss off Hasbro too!

As a semi-addicted player of Scrabulous, I was more than annoyed when the lawyers came in and closed down the Facebook app, Scrabulous way back when.

My irritation continued when Scrabble announced they would release their own Facebook game. And the final straw was when I tried the Scrabble game and it was really flashy and over the top. Read: annoying.

It had gone off my radar, but this weekend I found out (very, late, apparently) that Scrabulous was back - with a new name - Wordscraper - and some new rules.

I haven't played with it much, but wanted to share one cheeky thing they've done. It not only sticks two fingers up to EA/Hasbro, it's also a reminder of the makers' understanding of digital media over the two corporate giants.

To get around legal issues of making the game feel and look like Scrabble, Wordscraper's default settings are very different. Fort example, there are 8 tiles instead of seven and the board layout is totally different.

The simple-but-genius bit is that you can build your own custom game, with your own layout and your own rules. So anyone that loves Scrabble can simply rebuild the Scrabble board themselves. Recognise the start of this layout?


Clearly it's not a tactic that has beaten Scrabble. The Scrabble app has 575,022 users vs Wordscraper's 158,766. But I love their ingenuity and I for one will be trying it out properly.

I had never really thought about the power of customisation to get past legal issues in this context. Opens up some interesting possibilities.

Update:
I spoke too soon:

2 Comments:

Blogger Michel S. said...

I wonder whether a similar, customizable desktop application can afford to not block the Scrabble configuration.

The problem with the web application is that, since all the processing takes place on the server, they are aiding copyright infringement directly -- whereas, if it's a desktop application, everything takes place on the user's computer, and perhaps an EULA indemnifying the developer of any infringement will be sufficient.

7:58 pm  
Blogger Andy Whitlock said...

Hi Michel - it's a good point. I still find it sad that the copyright prevents users from doing it themselves. Ho hum.

8:43 am  

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