Stefan Fatsis over at Slate’s culture blog, browbeat, sets a record straight:
No, world, the rules of Scrabble are not changing.
After today’s words of media frenzy, words of wisdom:
Despite what you may have heard this morning on NPR or read on Kotaku or CBS or learned from the BBC or the Telegraph, the companies that own Scrabble — the word game to which I have devoted thousands of hours of my adult life — have not decided to allow proper nouns to desecrate the 15-by-15 board. But it sure makes for a good story. “Mattel changes the rules of Scrabble for the first time since 1948,” the London Times trumpeted. “Beyonce on a triple-word score?” asked the Daily Mail.
Here’s what’s actually happening:
Mattel, which owns the rights to Scrabble outside of North America, is introducing a game this summer called Scrabble Trickster. The game will include cards that allow players to spell words backward, use proper nouns, and steal letters from opponents, among other nontraditional moves. The game will not be available in North America, where rival toy company Hasbro owns Scrabble. Hasbro, I’m told, has no plans for a similar variation.