Friday, September 9, 2011

Scrabble Psychos of the Internet

by Pat Brown

As we always warn children and young adults, the Internet is a world with little law, a Wild Wild West that extends the circumference of the earth and is peopled by every sort of weirdo one can imagine. They are on blogs, Facebooks, Twitter, chat rooms, and, much to my annoyance, my online Scrabble site.

Not that some of us Scrabble players who show up at the local clubs aren't a bit odd (and while nonScrabble players are thinking I am being judgmental, the Scrabble players themselves are nodding their heads and thinking, well, yeah, that's true). But, at the club and the tournaments (that is me in red at a MN tourney in 2005), we have rules–like you have to hold the bag at eye level so you can't peek down into in and look for a blank or an S to make your big play. Although there are still poor losers and those who whine and argue about how things should be done, there is a code and you have to stay within the group comfort zone or you will be ousted.

Online, however, the personality disordered can have a field day! First of all, they can cheat. They can use electronic dictionaries and programs and simply put in the letters on their rack, hit the button and come up with big words. You can always tell these cheaters because while their strategy is terrible, they know words like DROUKED and DAIKER and DUIKER (yes, those really are words in Scrabble). Then there are those who get mad at you if you happen to actually know some weird words because you are a fairly highly rated player and they furiously type in "CHEATER! CHEATER! CHEATER!" even though they should recognize that they are a novice player and you are not.

There are those who lose and immediately whine that the computerized Scrabble game always give them bad letters! If you win, they call you lucky; if they win, they are skilled.

Sore losers and poor players with personality disorders have interesting ways of punishing their opponents which sometimes includes attempting to force you to stop playing so they can get the win. Sometimes they call you names and cuss at you hoping you won't be able to stand it and run away. Other times, they simply don't play for so long that their opponent goes crazy waiting on them (it is a timed game, but they have twenty minutes on their side). I multitask when they do that and I snicker as I watch their time run down; I am not sitting there staring pointlessly at the board, so, haha, it isn't working, buddy. A variation of this is to log off and on and off and on and off and on until the other player feels like a ping-pong ball.

Another interesting childish maneuver is to play gibberish, an entire game of nonsense words that, of course, one must challenge off the board each and every time. Some are not even trying to win; they are just being abusive and getting a kick out of it. Most people will suffer through a whole game of this crap because if they stop playing, they lose and their rating drops. In one of my last games, the player, losing badly, waited until his last play and then he asked me to abort the game....uh-huh. Didn't happen. So sorry. Nyuck, nyuck. The abusers turn me childish in return.

And, yes, the perverts are there as well.

ScrabbleDude: Hi and good luck.
Pat: Hi and good luck to you too.
ScrabbleDude: GOLDEN 22 points
Pat: SINGULAR 70 points
ScrabbleDude: ZEP 53 points
Pat: HAO 18 points
ScrabbleDude: Do you have big tits?

We have antisocial folks on the site who block any communication during the game and there are those who are friendly until they lose and when you type "Good game!" the reply is "Your opponent is not logged on."

At least in the real world where people have to interact face to face, abusive and psychopathic creeps can get cut off or penalized for bad behavior. On the Internet, they can strike over and over, fueling their feeling of power, getting satisfaction every time they get over on another person in the Cyberworld. One has to wonder that this kind of gratification and validation is not a good thing to be so easily obtained by someone with psychological issues. Even worse, teens and grade school children with personality disorders and behavioral problems are finding out that the Internet provides a world without adult supervision and controls; Facebook and chat rooms are filled with teens abusing teens and children getting some very nonhealthy kicks from antisocial behaviors. Probably some of my opponents in Scrabble on the Internet are juveniles and have no adults in their lives paying attention to what they are doing.

The Internet can be a fabulous tool for communication and socialization but if we aren't careful, bullying and predation and harassment will invade our life online and our children may get the brunt of it. We need to be very aware of the dangers of the Internet to our well-being and our children's well-being and make sure we are vigilant about allowing strangers access to our lives and our minds without even leaving our homes.


Anonymous said...

Great post Pat, and SO true.
But I guess this goes to show that the oddballs also needs to be careful on the internet. They never know if there's a psychologist in the other end of the line...

cheryl said...

Ha Ha! Scrabble Psychos...I love it. My ex husband was a Scrabble Psycho in real life. While I made the popcorn, he'd "set up" the board. And pocket the choicest letters to use during the game. Of course he still usually lost because he was an abysmal speller, and that would bring out another side of him.

Anonymous said...

There are a LOT of creeps attracted to Scrabble and Scrabble-like games. It's been a problem for years and years and years, as you know. The pervs are just attracted to chat rooms and are everywhere except Words with Friends (so far!). There are a lot of cheating shenanigans, but what you can do about the timed games is to reduce the total amount of the timed game to like 5 mins with a 7-second add on or something. That way, even if they screw around wasting time, eventually it will bite their butt. It really weeds out the chumps and pervs. Also: Block the crap out of people who are abusive or poor sports. We can take back our games!! You are right. These freaks try hard to ruin it for people who are enjoying themselves. What a bunch! But I always go back. Neener, neener.

Cozy in Texas said...

I always think of a bunch of old ladies playing scrabble. Interesting post.

Pat Brown said...


Yes, many people think of Scrabble as a parlor game. But, it is actually an extremely competitive game played in clubs and in tournaments. A chess clock is used and each person gets 25 minutes to play and any time over is penalized. There is an official Scrabble dictionary (OSPD in the US) and as long as the word is in there, it doesn't matter if you know what it means. It is normal that players put down seven and eight letter words every game. I just LOST a game with two bingoes (seven letter words) and a score of 476! So, play in the clubs is quite challenging.

As to who plays, if you go to tournaments you may find quite a large group (and there is a National tournament that is now on ESPN and an International tourney as well). The expert group is heavily more male than female (often unemployed brainiacs), the middle group (where I play) is a mix of male and female and bit more well-rounded, and the lowest group is usually the friendliest and contains new players and people who just never get that much better or are the blue-hairs and just can't remember as much or play as often anymore!.

The Internet has added a whole new dimension and is great for practice when you can't get in to a club.

Anonymous said...

You should probably just turn off the computer and walk away.

Those scrabbly bums are small timers.

Anonymous said...

"You can always tell these cheaters because while their strategy is terrible, they know words like DROUKED and DAIKER and DUIKER (yes, those really are words in Scrabble). Then there are those who get mad at you if you happen to actually know some weird words because you are a fairly highly rated player and they furiously type in "CHEATER! CHEATER! CHEATER!" even though they should recognize that they are a novice player and you are not."

Ah you might want to re-read your article because it kind of sounds like you are complaining about yourself?

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