Using Game Theory To Win 'Words With Friends'

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"Words With Friends," the Scrabble game knock-off for your smart phone or laptop, attracts nearly 7 million players a day. The game is so addictive that actor Alec Baldwin infamously got kicked off a plane in December for refusing to stop playing it!

But how do you win? William Spaniel has studied that question and written several e-books on the topic. The PhD student in political science at the University of Rochester says you can use concepts from game theory to win Words With Friends. Game theory is a method of analyzing how to proceed in certain situations and it is usually used in economics, political science, and psychology, so how can you use it to win a virtual board game?

Spaniel says that WWF is a zero-sum game, meaning that you don't want to make any play that will help your opponent. He says you always have to be analyzing the choices that your opponent will make, and it's more important to play words that will lead to fewer points for your opponent rather than more points for you.


This segment aired on February 9, 2012.


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