"It surprised me," says Peter Roizen.
According to him, computer scientists like
him are especially attracted to a board game he
The game, WildWords, is based on the crossword
format of Scrabble(R), but wild
tiles marked with an asterisk can represent one
or more letters in a series. Thus
the play of "JUX*ION" could be the word
"JUXTAPOSITION" with the asterisk
representing all the letters in the middle of the
"Their first response is 'Oh, it's a regular
expression'," says Roizen. "That's
the tip-off that I am talking to a computer
scientist. All I need to say is
'yes', and they grasp the principle. People from
other professions always ask if
there is a limit on the number of letters a wild
tile can represent."
To answer that question, Roizen keeps a tray with
the play "SUP*OUS" on the
table. He shows the play and offers a
clue--"Mary Poppins made this word
He claims even children immediately recognize the
In addition to wild tiles, WildWords offers
special board squares that convert
regular letter tiles into wild tiles. The game
also incorporates the bluff.
Players are not required to divulge their use of
wild tiles unless an opponent
risks a challenge and their own turn.
"It's a bit like poker with cards in the
hole," adds Roizen. "The wild tiles are
letter strings in the hole." Players do not
need to know or remember the use of
wild tiles in previous plays, but must be able to
put forward a legitimate word
for their own play if challenged.
"The game offers an incredible number of
possible plays," states Roizen. "I
computer scientists enjoy the opportunity to be
very creative." He feels,
"WildWords is to Scrabble(R), like chess is
"It's amazing how often the email address
for a buyer on the Internet is a
high-tech company," he adds. At the other
end of the curve, Roizen states that
about one in twenty people respond with
"that's too much thinking."
"Probably retired toll takers," adds