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Word games (also called word game puzzles) are spoken or board games often designed to test ability with language or to explore its properties.
Word games are generally used as a source of entertainment, but can additionally serve an educational purpose. Young children can enjoy playing games such as Hangman, while naturally developing important language skills like spelling. Researchers have found that adults who regularly solved crossword puzzles, which require familiarity with a larger vocabulary, had better brain function later in life.
Popular word-based game shows have been a part of television and radio throughout broadcast history, including Spelling Bee (the first televised game show) and Wheel of Fortune (the longest-running syndicated game show in the United States).
Categories of word game
Letter arrangement games
In a letter arrangement game, the goal is to form words out of given letters. These games generally test vocabulary skills as well as lateral thinking skills. Some examples of letter arrangement games include Scrabble, Upwords, Bananagrams, Countdown, and Paperback.
Paper and pencil games
In a paper and pencil game, players write their own words, often under specific constraints. For example, a crossword requires players to use clues to fill out a grid, with words intersecting at specific letters. Other examples of paper and pencil games include Hangman, Scattergories, and word searches.
Modern word games
As part of the modern "Golden Age" of board games, designers have created a variety of newer, non-traditional word games, often with more complex rules. Games like Codenames, Decrypto, and Anomia were all designed after 2010, and have earned widespread acclaim. Mobile games like Words with Friends and Word Connect have also brought word games to modern audiences.
Word games in media
Many popular word games have been adapted to television and radio game shows. As well as the examples given above, shows like Lingo, Says You!, Catchphrase, and Only Connect either revolve around or include elements of word games.
- Fortunately, Unfortunately
- Rebuses – picture puzzles representing a word
- Verbal arithmetic
- Anagram dictionary
- Double entendre
- Fortunately, Unfortunately
- Language game
- List of puzzle video games
- Online word game
- Phono-semantic matching
- Word play
- Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics
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