WARNING: Swears and general ribaldry
It’s really frustrating when you make a word in a game, and it’s not recognized by the game’s dictionary. It’s the worst when the word is a perfectly natural English word like “PUCE”, but a game like Jumbline doesn’t accept it. (Hear that, Jumbline devs? Ahem. AHEM.)
But in other situations, you punch in words like “bazooms” with a childish grin on your face, and when the game doesn’t recognize it, you click your tongue in mock outrage.
How DARE they rob me of 150 points for BAZOOMS! It’s in the Oxford!
Triple Word Score for “BLEEP”
The Official Scrabble Players’ Dictionary prides itself on being the most complete and fair collection of words suitable for tournament play, but it ran up against some controversy when a player complained about the listing of non-capitalized “jew” as a verb, with the accompanying definition “to bargain with – an offensive term”. The Jewish Defamation League got involved, and the next version of the OSPD removed the offending word, along with a big list of other words for good measure, including (but not limited to):
- the almighty fuck
- jesuit (i’m really not sure why? Unless there’s a pejorative verb form, as with “jew” … ?)
The Seattle SCRABBLE® Club has a complete list of expurgated words in case you’re up for a giggle or gasp.
(Of note, the word “frigging” was de-expurgated in OSPD 4, which is as good a reason as any to get it printed on a T-shirt.)
When the neutered list was released, the players revolted, many of them upset at not having been consulted. There were threats of event boycotting and … rioting? i dunno. What do Scrabble players do when they’re enraged? Spell “GRR”?
If the 80’s are to be believed, retribution begins with underwear theft.
Caving to the pressure, the Scrabbleati released an unexpurgated Official Tournament and Club Word List.
Somebody Set Us Up the F-Bomb
All this to say, i’m at a point now where i’m considering the word list for Spellirium, and whether or not it should contain naughties. As i’ve said before, the game is not necessarily for kids, so we can take “WILL SOMEONE CONSIDER THE CHILDREN??” handily out of the equation.
The difference between Spellirium and Scrabble is that while you have the option to spell various words in Scrabble, Spellirium may actually require you to spell certain words. For example, you may come to a point in the game where you meet a character who won’t let you pass unless you’ve spelled every word beginning with “Q”. i think this makes a big difference in deciding whether or not to include certain words on the list. When the word list is all up in your bidness, i don’t want to force a player to spell a word he is uncomfortable spelling.
Spell “nookie”. DO IT!!!
Degrees of Depravity
We can sort the expurgated words into these general categories:
- Euphemisms for swears
- Racist/Prejudiced terms
- Puerile words for body functions/parts (impolite words that mostly kids would use)
- Crass words for body functions (impolite words that mostly adults would use)
So we could go a number of different ways with Spellirium. We could include these words, and complaints be damned. We could, as some have suggested, give the player an optional switch to flip that’s off by default – when you turn it on, you get the complete word list. And the “complete” word list could be everything but swears and racism, everything but racism, or even plain old everything … (but i have a gut feeling that of any of the words on the list, most people are most likely to take most offense at the racist/prejudiced stuff).
What do YOU think? Should we include a content switch? Should we include all the naughty words, or just some of them?
When you answer, imagine yourself playing Spellirium, making one of these words, and reacting when the game does (or doesn’t) acknowledge it. And imagine your reaction if the game required you to make one or all of the words on the list.