MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun

As a fan of word games, I love the game Boggle. Players shake a grid of cubes with letters on them, set a timer, and then write down as many words they can form from the letters as they can. After time’s up, players compare words they wrote down. If another player wrote down the same word as you, you must cross it off your list. Then you score the remaining words. 

The mechanics of this game make it very enjoyable for me. First, there is time pressure. You need to allocate your time wisely to efficiently find words in the grid. Without a time limit, you will reach a point where finding additional words becomes so difficult that it’s no longer fun, just frustrating, so this mechanic mitigates that. 

The mechanic of probability also creates a fun dynamic, because odds are you will shuffle a grid that you have never seen before. Every new round is a new challenge, a clean slate. Some grids are more difficult than others, making the ease of finding words variable. However, easy grids mean other players will also find words more easily, so outscoring your opponents is still a challenge in that instance.

My favorite mechanic is that if you find the same word as someone else, the word doesn’t get counted towards your score. You need to try to find original words to score highly. There are a couple of strategies to do this. You can try to increase the volume of words you find, or try to find more original words relying on your knowledge. This makes the dynamics more fun because you’re encouraged to not just jot down the low-hanging fruit, but challenge yourself a bit harder. The longer the word, the more points you get, so you are further incentivized to push past the obvious word choices. 

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