A blog for fans of Bananagrams, word games, puzzles, and amazing things

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Scrabble Flash: An entire game in 5 electronic pieces

Last year, a cool new technology from the MIT Media Lab called "Siftables" was demonstrated in a TED Talk. It consists of little computerized blocks that you can move around with your hands. Touching them together makes them interact, and they can give feedback via their built-in screens and speakers.

At around 2:40 in the TED Talk video (below), the speaker shows how these Siftables can be used to play a word-formation game, referred to as being "like a mash-up of Scrabble and Boggle".

Now this technology has been licensed to Hasbro for a game called Scrabble Flash. There are three games that you can play with these tiles:
  1. Scrabble Flash is similar to Boggle. The tiles are locked into a random set of five letters for 75 seconds, during which time you try to make as many 3-, 4-, and 5-letter words as possible. Whenever you form a new word, the tiles flash at you and make a pleasant reward sound. At the end of the round, the tiles will display the number of words you formed and also the maximum number of words you could have formed.
  2. Scrabble Five-Letter Flash is an anagramming game in which you're just supposed to find one single 5-letter word, after which the tiles will flash and then switch to a different set of five letters.
  3. Scrabble Pass Flash is a multi-player version of Scrabble Five-Letter Flash. If someone fails to find the five-letter word within a set time, they will be knocked out from the game. The speed of the game increases, and the player who avoids elimination wins.

The speed and simplicity of these games reminds me of Bananagrams. It might be even more fun to have one set for each player, so you could play head-to-head. This looks to be easily the most fun new Scrabble-branded game in years.

UPDATE: It is now possible to buy the Siftables blocks shown in the TED Talk. They are sold under the name Sifteo Cubes. They are expensive ($149 for a set of 3), but they are much more colorful, dynamic, and amazing. You can buy "apps" for them, and in principle, program your own games or uses for them.