If you are a Facebook user, you may have already heard and been heartbroken by the fact the the application Scrabulous has been taken down. However, you can take heart because I will guide you through the world of free alternatives to get your Scrabble on.
It is worth nothing that Hasbro has the trademark on Scrabble in the US and Canada and must actively protect their trademark or lose it. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of the methods they have used in this process, I must acknowledge that they have the right to do what they’d like with the trademark, and this will be reflected in some of the content I’ll tell you about.
The first thing you should be aware of, especially if you are serious about Scrabble, (And I’m talking tournament-level seriousness here) is a free program called Quackle available at www.quackle.org. This program is the same program they use to analyze the Scrabble tournaments you’ll occasionally see on ESPN, and is amazingly powerful. It knows words that are only relevant to Scrabble players and it uses them to deadly accuracy. Even on easy, you will very likely lose badly. Besides bordering on the somewhat technical side, you do have to tell the program where the bonus squares are on the Scrabble board, since depending on the interpretation of the law could be considered trademarked. I recommend the program even if just to see what the highest level of Scrabble players see.
Next, I have what could potentially be a short-term fix, since it is actually Scrabulous, just on the world wide web. Just go to http://www.scrabulous.com/ and you can play there in the same very basic interface that you got from the Facebook application. I fear it may only be a matter of time until that is taken down as well, but time will tell.
Now, some of you will point out, rightly, that this just isn’t the same as a Facebook application that you can jump in and out of when you feel like it.
Well, I have a solution for that too beyond Hasbro’s official Facebook application, which has garnered much criticism across Facebook. You can now try Wordscraper. (Thanks to http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-10003366-36.html for alerting me to this.) I haven’t been able to try this yet, but from what I understand it is basically the same game, but with a non-trademark infringing name and a different graphical scheme. While I’m not a legal expert, from what I’ve read on the topic, this implementation could very well put them in the clear.
So, hopefully these options will get you through this Scrabulous crisis.
May you draw the right number of vowels and avoid Qs without Us.