Last night’s review and discussion of some of the motivational issues involved with game design got me thinking about a challenging word game I came across recently. The importance of challenge, according to Malone and Lepper, “depends critically on whether one is intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to participate in an activity,” and whether or not one views an activity as a “toy or a tool.”
Etymologic! bills itself as the toughest word game on the web. Definitely challenging, it presents 10 randomly selected etymology (word origin) or word definition puzzles to solve, which are presented in the same 4 answer multiple choice format that the 670 game research study is using. Players are warned to beware, that the distracters are quite plausible, and that some of the true answers are hard to believe, but documentation for all answers is available.
I got three out of ten on my first try, which probably explains why I have worked as an audio engineer rather than as an etymologist. An English major would probably regard this game as an engaging tool, while I defintiely regard this game as a toy that I would rather not play with often.