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Posted at 12:46 PM ET, 12/07/2011

Words With Friends: Alec Baldwin gives the addictive game a boost

Words With Friends’ parent company, Zynga, really ought to give Alec Baldwin a thank-you gift. When Baldwin was booted off an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York Tuesday for playing the Scrabble-like game, its popularity soared.
Alec Baldwin (Kevin Winter - Getty Images)

Words With Friends, which can be played on Facebook or mobile phones, had already been described as a “phenomenon” last year, when it was one of the fastest-growing apps, according to Tech Crunch. Today, it has approximately 12.5 million monthly active users on Facebook, according to appdata.com.

According to AppData, over the last seven days, 200,000 people started playing the game on Facebook — 100,000 of them in the last day alone. Zynga spokesperson Marideth Post wasn’t able to release any specific numbers because the company is in a quiet period as it prepares to go public for a $10 billion valuation.

This isn’t the first time that the game has gotten a boost from a celebrity — it has plenty of Hollywood fans. John Mayer was the first to promote the game when he tweeted in 2009 that the game is “The New Twitter.”

Paul Bettner, general manager for Zynga, told USA Today that he heard that Baldwin had been playing the game long before the flight incident — he told USA Today that his brother, who also works for Zynga, was “freaking out” because he was such a big fan of the actor. So it’s no surprise that the Zynga came to Baldwin’s defense, releasing an image of a Words With Friends screen spelling out “Let Alec Play.” Words With Friends’ Facebook page status read “Word of the day: ALEC (adj.) Typically associated with ‘smart’ as its prefix to refer to a wise guy, or smarty. Worth at least 8 points! This one goes to the smart ALECs out there — playing our game at the risk of getting in trouble!” (And it seems like he did get in some trouble — Baldwin is no longer on Twitter.)
"Let Alec Play," Zynga's response to Alec Baldwin getting kicked off a flight for playing the addictive game. (Courtesy Zynga)

What’s the big fuss about a game that is essentially just Scrabble? Users say that the game is addictive — “The crystal meth of language games,” says Cracked — because it taps into your social network, allowing you to play with strangers or friends. You can take as long as you want to make your next turn, too, so you can take your time to dream up complicated and high-scoring words to play. Cracked notes that a few words, such as texting, goths and lucite, are missing from Words With Friends’ dictionary.

YOUR TAKE: What's your #gamerstory?

Are you among one the crazed Words With Friends fans? Have you ever risked getting in trouble (or thrown off a flight) just to play an addictive game? Tell us on Twitter, use the hashtag #gamerstory. We'll include some of your responses right here.

By  |  12:46 PM ET, 12/07/2011

 
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