Playing Scrabble Online at Atari Play

What’s better than playing Scrabble with your family and friends on the occasional weekend that you get together? Playing Scrabble anytime you want with people from anywhere in the world. In the online Scrabble world, it’s possible to play with someone from Ireland, India or Indiana.

There are quite a few online Scrabble sites such as the Pixie Pit and the Internet Scrabble Club. However, my favorite site for online Scrabble is Atari Play. First of all, membership is free, and secondly, it’s like instant Scrabble gratification. One does not have to register to play. However, I highly recommend it. Registration for this site is quick and easy.

There are several advantages to becoming a registered member at Atari Play. As a registered member, you can create your own screen name, and you are given chat and ranking privileges. Members are given a color and a number score to denote one’s rank. From highest to lowest are red, orange, purple, blue and green. All new registered members start out as a purple player with a score of 1200. Your rank is saved every time you log off the site. This is a great way for a player to measure his or her progress. However, unregistered players are never ranked.

This online Scrabble site has several features that any Scrabble aficionado or novice would appreciate. A built in word check allows players to challenge an opponent’s play at the click of a button. There is also a tile distribution button that one can click on for quick reference during any point in the game. You, also, have the option of watching other games already in progress. This is a great way for beginners and intermediate players to learn from the advanced and master players.

In the lobby, you can set up a table for 2 to 4 players. Your screen name and color/rank are shown on a table that you create. When players in the lobby who want to play with you click on your table, a game is formed. When you build your table, you can choose whether or not to play a ranked game. You, also, have the option of clicking on a table already formed by another player, or you can click on the screen name of a player and invite them for a game. When this is done, the player who is invited for the game has the option of accepting or declining your invitation.

Something that I enjoy that is unavailable to the unregistered player is the dialogue box. Within this dialogue box, you can chat with your fellow players within a game or outside in the “lobby.” I have met so many interesting people from all over the world. I’ve chatted with retirees, new mothers, doctors…you name it. The online Scrabble world is full of interesting and friendly people. Of course, if you are not in the mood to chat, you don’t have to do that either. However, it is considered good manners to at least start a game with a “hi n gl” (hi and good luck) and end with a “gg ty” (good game, thank you).

I must mention that there is a dark side to online Scrabble play: quitters and sitters. Unlike your Aunt Myrtle who is unlikely to quit playing in the middle of your 175 point lead, there are those less honorable in the online gaming world. Anonymity along with some immaturity probably contributes to this highly annoying phenomenon of quitting. Because a player does not want to lose his or her ranking or is suffering from a case of plain sour grapes, he or she may suddenly leave the game. Sometimes this heinous crime is committed right before the winning player’s last move. The quitter ends up not losing any points, and the one who would have won doesn’t gain any. This can be very frustrating to the honest player.

For others, waiting for your opponent to make the next move can be the source of frustration. Let me illustrate this point. Let’s say Eggboy39 lays down his tiles for his next move within seconds of his turn to play. His opponent, Crazysue76, has been averaging 3 to 4 minutes between plays. Eggboy39 is growing edgier and more impatient by the second. After 5 minutes have passed, Eggboy39 clicks on the little button in the dialogue box with a picture of a horn on it.

Crazysue76’s 50 plus point word reverie is interrupted by a honking sound akin to a bike horn. Eggboy39 proceeds to repeatedly click on this button. Unperturbed, Crazysue76 turns down the volume of her computer and continues to focus on her perfect Bingo triple word score. Just as Crazysue76 has her “ah ha” moment and lays down her tiles, Eggboy39 has left the game. Incensed, Crazysue76 goes into the lobby and types in, “Eggboy39 is a quitter!!!” Eggboy39, who is waiting to form a new game in the lobby, types back, “I only quit when I’m playing a sitter!”

At this time, there is discussion on the Atari Play forum for the installation of code that would allow for custom timers and penalties for quitters. Thus, alleviating the problem of sitting and quitting.

Quitters and sitters aside, online Scrabble is still a wonderful and fun medium to improve your word game skills. By playing and watching people of various levels and ranks, you can become a much better Scrabble player quickly. As a Scrabble newbie, you may find yourself challenging all kinds of funny looking words such as “umiaq” and “tufa.” However, persevere and make a list of the new words that you come across while playing others online. Begin using those new words, and soon you’ll be playing better than ever before.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your game on, and register now at http://games.Atari.com!

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