I started playing Words with Friends early this year and I am grateful to the friend that introduced it to me. I play it daily, often with multiple games going on with various opponents simultaneously.

For the uninitiated, Words with Friends is a crossword puzzle style game similar to scrabble. See https://company.zynga.com/games/words-friends.

I love that I can play it at my convenience, making one or two moves before moving on to something more ‘serious’ on my schedule. I love that I can step away from ‘serious’ stuff and have fun with my fellow Words with Friends players.

And I love the fact that when I’ve struggled with insomnia, Words with Friends has helped keep me distracted from the roamings of my mind when my body is tired and yet wouldn’t sleep or especially worse, when I wake up in the wee hours after only a few hours kip and can’t go back to sleep.

Yes, I love Words with Friends.

Having engaged with it regularly in the last five months, here are some lessons I’m taking from Words with Friends:

1. The race doesn’t always belong to the fastest. The player who is leading at the beginning of the game doesn’t necessarily always win at the end. I get excited when I overtake an opponent and play the winning score. I am equally gutted when I’m the one who gets piped at the post. I take encouragement from the fact that there is always the option of a rematch and so the game goes on…

WWF vowels

2. Make the most of the tiles you’re given. The only other choice really is to throw in the towel – and what’s the fun in that? Sometimes the ‘tile fairy’ decides all she will dispense to you are vowels. Or just consonants. Of course there’s the option to swap tiles but that doesn’t always guarantee that you would draw useful ones. So we keep going, sometimes swapping, sometimes playing just one tile for a very small score. Sometimes the game turns in your favour, sometimes, it doesn’t. Whatever the case, what dedicated Words with Friends players learn to do is to make the most of the tiles they’re given, and be satisfied that they’ve done their best to play a very good game.

3. Be gracious in winning and in losing. Need I say more?

4. There isn’t necessarily always a meaning to everything. For example, a seasoned player of Words with Friends would have at first been shocked by and then begin to play some acceptable words that are meaningless and/or non-existent in normal everyday conversation. For example: ootid, ane, gie and xu. The fact that the game accepts it and even gives a high score for it, doesn’t mean that the word is necessarily meaningful or useful in your life outside that game. It reminds me of a saying that is common and often grates my nerves which goes in variations of: “Everything happens for a reason.” Really?

5. We teach our children stranger danger and that is right and proper. We do not however usually teach them to beware of family, friends and the familiar. Yet some of the betrayals that hurt the most including all kinds of abuse, tend to be perpetrated by those near, dear and trusted ones. In Words with Friends, most of my playmates are randomly found from a pool of players. I have found it a parallel to life in that strangers and random people with whom I’d shared neither history nor companionship in the ‘regular’ times were the ones who were most available and ready to show me kindness when I was starving for compassion, warmth and affection. So I am happy to continue playing Words with Friends with whoever is available and willing to play with me. And I hope to not be stingy in offering kindness, warmth and compassion to friends and strangers alike as it is within my ability so to do.

6. The thrill of high scores and beating your own PB! Playing a word that achieves a very high score especially when I’ve beaten my own personal best gives me such a buzz, even if I ultimately lose the game.

7. Sometimes people will walk away. And that’s okay… well, I am learning to know and accept that it is okay. You see, even though the game will count as a win to me, when opponents resign, the game gets cut short and I feel cheated. However I do feel compensated if, after resigning, a player invites me to a rematch as that confirms to me that it isn’t personal, that they probably had crap tiles and just wanted an opportunity to do over.

Sometimes in life we have opportunities to do over. Sometimes subsequent attempts could be more difficult than at first, or at least we might feel that way… However, trying to do over, using all the resources at our disposal, including a solid support structure, however lean it might appear, would be taking the steps we need towards continuous growth and development…

These are some of the lessons I’m taking from Words with Friends.

WWF 2

Are you a Words with Friends fan? Do you fancy a game? Bring it on!