TextTwist: an accessible word game

I’ve always been good at word games. There’s something calming about the act of unscrambling a word, then correctly assembling it. It’s not rocket science, but it’s a great distraction. So, I thought I would check out the downloadable version of TextTwist — there’s a free 60 minute trial. The game itself is $20, though there are occasionally free offers for the full version too. The downloadable version is definitely an improvement over the web version as far as accessibility.

TextTwist is simply a word scrambling game, in which you have to assemble words ranging from three to six letters (or seven, in the full version). There is a “twist” button that will rearrange the letters for you, in case a different combination helps. If you get the six or seven letter word, you are permitted to go on to the next round even if you miss other words, but if you don’t get the big word, your game is over. The problem with the web version is that it is timed. You might be able to think of the words in two seconds, but if you can’t move the cursor or type fast enough to actually make the words, this will affect your game score.

The best part about the downloadable version is that you have the option of playing without a clock, giving you unlimited time to both find and input the words. Another useful feature is the “last word” button, particularly for entering plurals of words you already have. For example, if you’ve entered C-A-R, you don’t have to spell out “cars” for your next word — just click “last word,” and all you have to input is the S. There is also a dictionary feature, so that if a word turns up that you don’t know, you can get the definition. This could also be good for those with learning disabilities.

The best way to play this game is with a pointing device, dwell clicking if necessary. (Dwell clicking is another reason the downloadable version is a better idea. In the downloadable version, you don’t have to worry about accidentally clicking on pop-ups or ad links if you get a tremor or something.) I say that simply because it’s little faster, but Mouse Keys will also work. So will the mouse commands for Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Keyboard accessibility is mixed. You can use the letter keys and press Enter to input the words, and press Space to twist the letters. However, to click buttons such as “clear” or “last word,” you still need to move the cursor to the button and click it, which is a minor annoyance. All in all, though, TextTwist makes for a relaxing, if perhaps slower, distraction. You can download the game from http://get.games.yahoo.com/proddesc?gamekey=texttwist. If you don’t like toolbars, make sure you uncheck the box for the Yahoo toolbar during the installation if you don’t want it. Happy twisting.

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