Every morning as I sip my coffee, the obsession begins. No, not with coffee, but with my other addiction - LETTERSWIRL. It starts out as a passing thought, "I wonder if anyone has made a move?" And then I can't rest until I grab my iPad and tap on the icon that opens the game. "Not another 'Z'... That's it. He is getting a 'J' from me." My mood immediately lifts when I hear the soothing sound of the wind chimes and the melody of crickets, signaling that the game challenge is on.
I admit it. I'm hooked. As far as I know, I am the first person to play the iPad version of the game with the game developer. And I am certain that I hold the world's record in number of games played. How do I know?
That's simple. The developer, Spencer Hargiss, is my son.
If you are thinking what I would be thinking, then you would be wrong. That is not the reason I love LETTERSWIRL. Word games have always been a passion of mine. Crossword puzzles were part of my morning every day, like caffeine and breathing. And then I got my iPad. And my first app. And my brand new addiction.
Actually, buying apps was too scary when my iPad was new, so my son surprised me and bought my initial game app for me. Now the first thing I check each day after pouring my first cup of coffee is my LETTERSWIRL status. If I'm lucky, there are one or more games in progress online. After a while, Spencer brews some tea, and we can sit down across from each other with some Earl Grey and a game of Face to Face. In between times, single player mode presents a challenge, since I have been trying to beat an opponent's top score for weeks.
What do I like about the game? The way the game looks, the way it sounds. The crickets and the gentle chimes are calming and help me think. No bright flashing and loud crashing and things whizzing by too fast for me to follow. I like setting up letter combinations that will give me the largest selection for possible future words, and then getting just the letter that I have been waiting for. I like playing with people I have met and those that I haven't met yet. Plus, I enjoy getting to use all those strange words I learned doing crosswords, like "adz" and "quoin." Or highlighting a letter string that I think cannot possibly be a word, only to see the game light up and ring, and I say with wonder, "That's a word?"
Watching my son perform the magic that goes into making a video game app is awe-inspiring. My field is computer graphics but believe me, I have no idea how he does what he does. Meeting the other people on the development team has also been great fun.
So if I am going to be obsessed with something, I am thrilled that it is LETTERSWIRL. Even better than coffee, because I can play one last game each night, close my iPad, and go straight to sleep.