Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rules of "Scrabble" Not Changing In The US

You've probably played the board game Scrabble many times over the years.  You remember it: the game where each player picks tiles with letters printed on them and then tries to spell-out words on the game board like a crossword puzzle. Despite being invented in 1938, Scrabble apparently still has a rabid fan base around the world, even today, as well as a circuit of sanctioned competitions and professional players.  But controversy erupted among its fans last week when news leaked on the internet that a new version of the game to be released in Britain will change to the rules to allow proper names (like cities and celebrities) for the first time.  

The New York Times is reporting this morning (really, it's made that much news) that this rule change will not, in fact, be made to the version of the game sold in the United States, however.  You can read the article HERE. Beyond the hysteria about this (seemingly minor) rule change, I thought that this news was also interesting because it revealed to me that Scrabble is not made by the same company all over the world.  It turns out that those rights are actually split between two giant toy companies. Hasbro owns the rights to the game in the United States while Mattel holds the rights outside the United States.  So this new rule change may be less a reflection of any cultural differences between the United States and Britain (at least among Scrabble enthusiasts), but, more prosaically, merely the different marketing strategies of two multi-national corporations. 

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