No matter what the language involved, most civilizations are fascinated with word games. Language is there to be played with, using palindromes, puns and other devices. The success of TV shows such as Spelling Bee and Wheel of Fortune is testament to our obsession with words. Wheel of Fortune began in the United States and was sold to the UK, Europe, Australia and the Far East. Every commuter train to work is full of people grappling with crosswords, brows deeply furrowed if it's a cryptic crossword.
Children learn better when they are having fun and games like hangman and word searches have educational value. The whole family can sit round the table and play scrabble, probably the most popular board game using words in the world. It is played in 121 countries in different languages and has been a pastime since it came on the market in the 1940s. Word games like scrabble can be adapted into other forms to keep up with technology and there have been computer versions for several systems, including PlayStation2, Mac, Palm OS and Game Boy. It's also possible to play as a video game or on a mobile phone.
Scrabble is very competitive and it's a serious business for some people. Not many word games have international competitions but the World Scrabble Championships, held every other year, are well supported. Individual countries have their tournaments too with competitors entered from their clubs. The National Scrabble Association supervises the competitions in North America. Canada has a version that links up with a lottery draw. Various eccentrics, wanting to get into the record books, have played underwater scrabble and tried to beat the time spent playing. Scrabble has different editions including a travel version and a larger print version. There is also a deluxe edition and an edition for younger people with an appropriate set of rules.
In addition to the classic games, it's fun to try something new. The Da Vinci Game is a board game inspired by the Da Vinci Code book by Dan Brown and the movie. As the story involves coded messages and linguistic puzzles, it is ideally suited to the format of word games. The game is played against the clock as players work through the symbols and hidden meanings. There is some concern over the depletion of language due to the use of texting and computers. Whilst there are word games to keep us amused, language will thrive. It's also a good way of combating dementia as word games stimulate the brain.