SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Do you play the online game Words with Friends? Even if you don’t, you probably know somebody who does.

It’s one of the most popular games among the older, affluent demographic, and at least anecdotally, it’s having a powerful impact on relationships.

“It’s more addicting than crack but better for you,” one Words with Friends devotee suggested, tongue-in-cheek, to KCBS’ Mike Sugerman during his travels, About the Bay.

KCBS’ Mike Sugerman Reports:

“I have this friend whose grandma is in Portugal, who is obsessed with Words with Friends. She will word or send a message to her granddaughter and if she doesn’t message her back right away, it’s like all hell’s breaking loose,” recounted another woman.

It’s become one of the most popular social games – and in fact, online gaming itself has taken over e-mail as the second most popular online activity, behind social networking.

“Gaming becomes the ice breaker in an online world,” reasoned Los Galtos-based Mark Kaufmann, whose company, Days of Wonder, makes board games and companion online apps.

He theorized that the chat portion of the games help to make them so popular.

“When you go to a real party, there has to be something to talk about, you have to have something that you want to have in common with these people,” he said. “And gaming can be that.”

Sugerman freely admitted that he can’t stand the game. It’s an entirely different story with his wife.

“I love Words with Friends,” she enthused about the game, which is made by the San Francisco company Zynga. “I’m totally addicted to it. I admit it.”

Does it help or hurt a relationship? That depends on who you ask.

“What’s more romantic than lying in bed and competing with each other on your iPhone and your iPad, right?” one woman reasoned.

She sits alongside her husband after they tuck their daughters into bed and play Words with Friends.

“This is romance in 2011,” she suggested. “You don’t have to talk, you don’t have to communicate, you just pick words. And in some cases, you got to Scrabble Cheat.”

Cheating in bed, Sugerman wondered? It takes on an entirely new meaning when Words with Friends comes into play.


(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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