Scrabble is a cherished game for many, so when the word game changed its rules there were plenty of people who were offended.

Keen Scrabble players have blasted those behind the game after 400 derogatory terms were removed as playable words. The racial slurs that have been removed included  ‘n-word’, and homophobic slurs.

Mattel updates the Scrabble game to be reflective of society and the words it uses. The company claims that anti-racism protests made it clear that certain words didn’t belong in the game. Equally, the removal of other slurs has been justified because they would offend.

The reaction

While many will be happy that words, that would be labelled as a hate crime if they were said aloud to someone, have been removed, others are displeased. Scrabble grandmaster David Webb explained his feelings to The Times:

“Its actions are seen by many as virtue signalling, making a token gesture or ‘woke’.”

“Imposing American values on the world is pretty obnoxious, and forcing its licensees like Wespa to agree to expurgation or lose their licence is bullying.”

Webb didn’t offer too much reasoning behind why removing racist words was bullying Scrabble players.

However, the World English Language Scrabble Players Association (WESPA) is outraged. Three notable members of the group have quit in response to these measures.

In fact, some believe that this is a PR stunt that is damaging the game.

Author Darryl Francis, who was involved in 1980s official Scrabble word lists, said:

“Words in our familiar Scrabble word lists should not be removed because of a PR purpose disguised as promoting some kind of social betterment.”

Ebi Sosseh, from Bournemouth, noted that they had felt uneasy when words had been played against them in the past. Nonetheless, they felt that changing the words was “trivial.”

Sosseh noted:

“I used to be initially uncomfortable when words like “w**” used to be played against me. “

“That subsided very quickly when I rationalised that we were engaged with a game of words.”

Positive thoughts

Naturally, others have felt that this is a positive change by Mattel. Some feel that hate speech shouldn’t be acceptable in a game and that removing the possibility of offending a player is a positive step.

Going forward

Mattel hasn’t officially listed all the words that have been removed. With that in mind, some Scrabble players may be surprised to find some words will still be accepted.

Some will now check what words they can still use, and then decide whether they should stop playing the game. With that said, Mattel’s game has survived many changes and will continue to do so despite the protest.

Will you carry on playing scrabble?

Images via Alamy