Thursday, November 14, 2002

Games People Play - Some people have golf buddies; I have a Scrabble buddy. Okay, that's reductive as hell. He's a real friend, but our fallback excuse for hanging out together is to go to some coffee shop and play Scrabble for a few hours. A while back, he got the Scrabble CD-ROM which has boosted his abilities to superhuman levels and now I consider it a successful game if, at the end, our scores at least have the same first digit. That's not really the point.

He and his wife gave me a copy of the Scrabble CD-ROM for my birthday, and last night I tried to install it. I click the "install" button, and crappy lite jazz guitar music starts coming out of my speakers. It's about a 20 second clip, looped. Great. Installing software isn't annoying and frustrating enough as it is, now I get to listen to muzak while I watch a little blue bar creep across my screen. And when the computer's really thinking, the music starts to skip. Finally, I get to start the game, and all I get is a black screen. Now, even Ctrl-Alt-Delete doesn't work. I have to actually turn off the computer, wait for the hard disk to stop spinning, turn it back on, let it run scan disk, reload Windows, etc. Which I do, then go to Hasbro.com, where I'm told that they don't actually make the CD-ROM, I need to go to InfoGrames.com, which sends me to yet a third site to tell me that I need to update my video drivers and/or set my screen to 640x800 with 256 colors, neither of which ends up working, but everytime I try something new, I have to go through the whole power down, wait for my hard drive to stop spinning, start back up thing.

The kicker is that for me, the game is about the mind of my opponent much more than it's about points. Scrabble gives me a peek into your mood, your hobbies, your education, and your word hoard. I'm really not interested in playing Scrabble against a computer.

Thankfully, it's the thought that counts, and the thought was lovely.

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