How I Became Addicted to Online Word Games

Excerpt from this article:

This was particularly vexing because I had perceived this danger nearly a decade ago, and thought I had dodged it. In 2008, a television critic and fellow word lover had urged me to engage with her on a word game app called Prolific. At first, I demurred, messaging back that I had tried another app, Scrabulous, and hadn’t liked it; too much like Scrabble (a game I’ve always found frustrating because letter-luck plays too big a part).

Prolific was different, she fired back. It was just like Boggle. You logged on any time of day or night, joined a round with a friend or with strangers across the globe; then a letter grid popped up, and all of you raced to find words in the same grid in the same three-minute span. Charily I messaged her back: “I’ll give it a go.”

At the time, the weather was glacial and I was housebound, felled by a severe cold. Dizzy with DayQuil, unable to focus on work, I logged into Prolific and played my first round, foolishly confident that my lengthy word list would loft me into the winners’ circle. Then the scores came up. I had been trounced, routed, utterly crushed, by a legion of far-flung opponents — and above all by a man I’ll call Balthazar Tong, who had whomped me by hundreds of points, and beaten the others, too.

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