Must be a sin to have this much fun

OK, this video reviewing column is getting personal. Starting as a way to research the appropriateness of games for kiddos, my 9-year-old gamer son included, the column has now forced me to enjoy myself and has become a HUGE distraction to making dinner, doing laundry and other daily mommy jobs. In fact, I nearly missed the deadline for this review because it was “my play.”

Until this week, I really have not felt compelled to play the games I’ve reviewed — Black Ops, Halo, MarioKart, Minecraft and the many others. Now I have enjoyed gaining knowledge about the games, especially L.A. Noire and Farmville.

This week, my story is different. I discovered Words with Friends, a free application available for the iPad, iTouch and iPhone, and I’m addicted. Come to find out, so are many others – millions, including dozens of my friends on Facebook.

Research shows that more people are touching their “i” devices for games such as Words with Friends than for phone calling and texting. Makers of this game, Newtoy, a Texas mobile game development company, made a name for itself with Chess with Friends and was acquired last year by Zynga. You know Zynga. They are the ville-fers – Farmville, Cityville, Gagaville. Now they are also Zynga with Friends.

Join the world, and me, and start playing Words with Friends today. It’s easy. Go to the App Store and choose the Words with Friends app. You’ll see two apps for Words with Friends. Choose the free one. It downloads quickly to your device and asks you to log in. If you want to login using your Facebook information – e-mail and password – you’ll have access to those friends of yours who are also playing Words with Friends.

You’ll then be asked to create a game and choose who you would like to play with — a Facebook friend, random opponent, someone from your device’s contact list or you can pass and play a multi-player game on the same device, which is awesome for traveling, sitting in the doctor’s office, etc. You can also enter the username or e-mail and search for a friend who might be a Words with Friends player. Of course, you can always invite a friend, too, and there is an option for that.

To get started, I just picked a random player and was immediately matched with an opponent, “Zidersi.” Since I started the game, which is essentially Scrabble, I made the first move. Seeing the entire grid on my screen, seven letters in my viewer for playing, double and triple letters (DL and DT, respectively) and double and triple words (DW and DT) for winning, I carefully selected, the word most appropriate for what I was doing during work hours – “SIN.” I won three points.

Approximately three minutes later, my opponent played “LEARN,” but he/she could have played three hours or three days later because Words with Friends is played at a pace set by the players. There is no pressure or time clock ticking, which also means three-letter words are really unacceptable. My opponent made 14 points. OMG … I had to come up with a good word and OMG … this is fun. Three minutes later I played “RISKY” using the “s” in “sin.” I scored 19 points and I was addicted.

Words with Friends allows players to have games going on simultaneously with multiple people. I can play with my dad, who is across the country, or with my son in the house, either sitting down together on my iPad or playing separately. I’ll play on my iPad and he on his iTouch. Everyone plays at his or her leisure, responding when convenient. It’s educational for kids (and adults), and my son feels as though “Mommy is playing a video game with him.” Even if the laundry is unfolded I’m still a video gaming rock star in my kid’s eyes.

If the Words with Friends scrabbling pace is too slow, I can also recommend www.pogo.com. Create an account, play for free against a random opponent or the computer. You’ve got two minutes to make your move. The free version has advertisements every few plays, which gets tedious but allows you a breather. Paid play ($5.99 a month) removes all advertisements.

Words for Friends is VERY appropriate for my kid and yours and fun for you. Play (SIN) with me at svitanza!

shadow