By Cheyenne Weber –
camel124: “How is QI a word? No, XI can’t really be a word!”
captainkirk29: “What? You can’t use names?!”
swordfish87: “Oh, how I love the Words With Friends dictionary.”
There’s a new craze hitting students at Penn Manor and, while it’s educational, it can only be played on a smart phone or iPod touch, which are both banned – under teacher’s discretion – in most classes.
The new craze is called, “Words with Friends.” While students used to spend much of their stolen phone minutes texting to friends, they now fill the hallways and classes with their heads down and fingers moving, playing the popular iPhone app.
“I never thought I’d be addicted to a game with educational value,” said Brian Sloss, a junior at Penn Manor.
Words With Friends is a multi-player, mobile word game. It challenges players to take turns building words crossword puzzle style with one or more friends, much like the popular board game Scrabble. Thanks to the internet, you can match word skills against random opponents. Up to 20 games can be played simultaneously using push notifications to alert players when it is their turn.
Words with friends was released July 2009 by Zynga. Mike Isaac from Wired.com said The app boasts 2.5 million daily active users, with over 10 million downloads since its creation. Words with Friends is available for cross-platform play on devices running the operating systems including Android and iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch). The Words with Friends is one of the top ranking games in the application store.
“The students could be playing other apps that are way worse and not educational,” said assistant principal Eric Howe.
He said the school is not that concerned about the sudden rage of Words With Friends because it has educational value to it and is helping expand the vocabulary of high school students. The school is concerned, noted Howe, that students are playing while they are in class, when they should be listening to the teacher, instead of worrying about trying to land a word on double-letter and triple-word to form a 50-point word.
“It’s something that needs to be played when your work is finish, It’s like another type of enrichment you could say. But I have laptop in front of me all day and I do not search the internet while class is in session, so I expect students to not go on their smart phone while I’m teaching,” said Mellisa Frerichs, an English teacher at Penn Manor.
Lisa Mayo, another English teacher, agrees that students should play in their “free time” not during class.
“I think if students knew they were learning while playing Words With Friends, students wouldn’t be playing the game,” said Mayo.
At least 150 students are currently engaged in the game during the school day, by a rough estimate.
Some students wonder if the school shut down the technology that allows the game to be played?
iPhone users are safe but students who use their ipod touches aren’t because students must access the guest network in order to play the scrabble like game.
“We have the technology and power to do it but we couldn’t shut the individual app off. We have to shut all apps off,” said Charlie Reisinger head of technology for Penn Manor.
Words With Friend users don’t need to be worried because the school has no interest in shutting down the access to apps, Reisinger indicated.
As long as the Words With Friends rage continues, it will be a grammar and spelling epidemic.
“I play it because because everybody’s doing it,” said Brian Sloss.
“I’m playing 20 games at once, I’m a words with friends addict,” said Matt Noll.
The Words With Friends creators don’t know how long this craze will last but they don’t see the word game running out of letters any time soon.