An app based on using common speech has some uncommonly profound effects
If not being able to Scrabble® like you speak has been driving you crazy, then Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges and Edwin Benton have a game for you: Slang N’ Friendz.
The newly launched, free multiplayer mobile word game (available on iOS and Android) boasts a 10,000 word “slanguage” dictionary with “slang words dating back to the 1800s . . . [and] slang from countries such as Canada, Ireland, Australia, the UK, and more.” Users can also submit slang suggestions, which the Slang N’ Friendz team will research and potentially add to the game. But as fun as it is being able to play the word “peaky” to see if you can get Ludacris to shout out “Slang!” and earn yourself a 10-point bonus, there’s a deeper ethos at work here.
Slang N’ Friendz mastermind Benton tells Geektime that the game “gives players of all ages the chance to express themselves and learn in a way they’ve never been able to do through traditional games.”
As slang is often considered a language native to the young, typical word games tend to severely limit their playing vocabulary and potentially alienate the largest demographic of the app-using market: 18-24 year olds.
Slang N’ Friendz not only welcomes this youthful demographic to engage in wordplay using their everyday language, but also encourages age-transcending social connection by allowing older players to use the slang of their generations, reminding all players that speaking a “slanguage” at one life stage or another is a universal experience.
An additional feature of the game allows that social connection to transcend culture as well as age. Often a player will unknowingly play a foreign slang word (for example, “sod”), but instead of just giving them the extra points and moving on, Slang N’ Friendz also provides an educational opportunity in the form of a word definition. “That’s the fun part,” Benton says. “Playing what you think is a regular word and realizing it is a slang word and learning the uniqueness of it!”
Word games have long been the realm of, well, word nerds — or at least the Merriam Webster’s brand of word nerd. This has meant people whose vocabularies primarily consisted of “lesser” words could never compete on a level playing field, regardless of the fact that their personal word banks contained just as much nuance and diversity of meaning as that of any Oxford Dictionary aficionado. This also has meant that neither the slang slingers nor the dictionary devotees got much opportunity to interact with one another. Now, players of all language classes can compete against and learn from one another.
As the app’s motto appropriately states, “United we slang.”