Classic board game brings family game nights to campus

For junior Emily Wagner, forming a new club on campus was as simple as “love at first Scrab.”

It was her passion for Scrabble that brought Wagner together with Megan Arellano to form a club around the word game.

“We were the only two who kept coming back consistently last year and took it upon ourselves to keep the club going and be a sustainable club,” Wagner said.

The Capital Letters became an official GW-recognized club last year-and its membership has been growing.

The club’s co-presidents, Arellano and Wagner, said that before this year, they had to drag friends to play Scrabble with them. At that time, the group only averaged five players each meeting.

Now, to hone their Scrabble skills, about 10 to 15 club members meet once a week in the Marvin Center. With games set up on coffee tables and players clustered on couches, club meetings recreate the feeling of a family game night on a college campus.

“I grew up with board games. They are fun and simple forms of entertainment,” Wagner said. “It’s really nice to have a break once a week from work and school and do something that’s enjoyable.”

Senior Casey Blair said the simplicity of Scrabble contrasts the complications of collegiate life.

Being a good speller is not required, and Arellano, a junior, said the members are not going to “hassle you about misspelled words.” The club judges words based on the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, copies of which are kept on hand at every meeting. Players also have cheat sheets of uncommon two-, three- and four- letter words, plus words starting with tough letters like q and z.

Sometimes, the club plays a different version of Scrabble based solely on made-up words like “wetgazes” or “xanadu.”

“If we have a fun word, we’ll play it regardless of the rules,” Wagner said.

Last year, the club hosted an on-campus Scrabble tournament. Arellano and Wagner would like to host a family game night during Colonials Weekend, in which students, siblings and families can play Scrabble and other board games.

Now that the club is growing, they are trying to reach beyond GW’s campus and into the city. As a team leader at the tutoring program D.C. Reads, Arellano would like to organize a joint event between the club and the nonprofit as a way to “promote literacy through Scrabble.”

“The club does not have a lot of advocacy,” Arellano said. “It’s about making connections and friends who we wouldn’t otherwise know.”

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