Scrabble’s ‘woke’ makeover sparks controversy

Online reactions to Mattel's new version of Scrabble have been divided with many slamming the 'woke' new game. Source: Getty Images.

A change made to the iconic and much-loved board game, Scrabble, has left traditionalists and longtime fans scratching their heads.

The adaptation has widely been slammed as ‘woke’ by the online community but Mattel, the makers of the board game, has touted the move as a bid to get more Gen-Zers on board.

After 75 years as a strategic word game that has challenged the vocabularies of millions of ardent players around the world, the new version of Scrabble now features a double sided board.

One side sticks to the original version which was developed  by amateur artist and unemployed architect, Alfred Mosher, during the peak of the Great Depression. The other side will be the new, Scrabble Together, a non-scoring version that will supposedly appeal to Gen-Zers.

The new version allows people to play in teams and will be quicker to play. It also has helper cards that can be selected according to the player’s chosen challenge level. Scoring, the cornerstone of the original game, is now a thing of the past.

To complete the game, players simply need to collect goal cards and complete challenges. The player who finishes 20 challenges is the winner while the player who used their helper cards without completing their challenges, is the loser.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 Today, Gyles Brandreth, co-host of language podcast Something Rhymes With Purple, said, “The makers of Scrabble found that younger people, Gen Z people, don’t quite like the competitive nature of Scrabble,”

“They want a game where you can simply enjoy language, words, being together and having fun creating words.”

In a statement to The Post, Ray Adler, vice president, global head of games for Mattel, said “Scrabble has truly stood the test of time as one of the most popular board games in history, and we want to ensure the game continues to be inclusive for all players.”

“For anyone who’s ever thought ‘word games aren’t for me’, or felt a little intimidated by the classic game, Scrabble Together mode is an ideal option,” Adler added.

“Scrabble Together mode continues to celebrate the wonder of words just as the Classic version does, but thanks to its exciting new co-operative and dynamic gameplay, it’s more accessible and brings people together.”

Despite the best intentions, Scrabble Together seems to have fallen flat with many individuals in the online community.

“See what the participation trophies have done?” one person wrote.

“Is this designed specifically for those Gen-Zers who hate ‘competitiveness’ and are still living in their parents’ basements?”

“They have to dumb down Scrabble. That’s how bad Gen-Z is,” commented another.

“Geez, what’s next? Monopoly becomes “Government Payouts,” featuring AOC, Schumer, Pelosi, Hyena Harris, and Braindead Biden tokens?”

However, some people saw the change as a positive one and congratulated Mattel on innovating what has become what they believe to be a rigid and stuffy game.

“I like the occasional game of scrabble, but I find it quite stuffy and rigid. A reboot without losing the original, is a brilliant compromise! I can see people of all age groups flitting between the two versions. I’m in my 40s. Well done Mattel.”

Brett Smitheram, a former Scrabble World Champion and current UK number one said in a statement, “The game speaks to a trend in younger people who want to avoid competitive games, instead favouring teamwork and collaboration working towards a fun goal together.”

As the world recognises National Scrabble Day on April 13, it will be interesting to see whether the new version of the game catches on in the dawn of a new linguistic era or if the classic game lives on in its pure form.

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