London: In a move likely to enrage purists, popular word-making game Scrabble will change its rules—for the first time in nearly 62 years—to allow names of celebrities and companies.
The decision by Mattel Inc., the games firm that owns the distribution rights to Scrabble, will allow proper nouns. Players would be permitted to use names such as London, brand labels such as Pepsi, and star monickers such as Beyonce and Shakira. Mattel has promised the new rules will be a “great new twist” to encourage younger players to take part. The company is also considering allowing players to spell words backwards and upwards on the board and place words unconnected to other pieces.
The updated board game is due out in July, but the original version will still be available with the old rules.
The announcement has caused consternation among regular players, with accusations that Mattel is dumbing down the game.
Richard Lyon, chairman of the Cambridge Scrabble Club, said he will not be playing by the new rules. “These changes go against the core tenets of the game. Avoiding names is a discipline. And floating words make it even easier,” he told the Daily Mail newspaper. “Why play a game that doesn’t challenge you?”