10/07/2013 13:35 BST | Updated 10/07/2013 13:37 BST

Scrabble Fans Fury Over Mattel Online Changes Lead To 24-Hour Protest

Mark Nyman (left) and Mikki Nicholson at the end of their second match during the National Scrabble Championship final in London today.
Mark Nyman (left) and Mikki Nicholson at the end of their second match during the National Scrabble Championship final in London today.

Scrabble can get people pretty angry.

What dictionary should we use? Does the Hip-Hoptionary count? No, you can't have BBC, or IQ, but you can have Qi, not the quiz game, but the energy force in traditional Chinese culture. (Huffington Post UK has just given away its best Scrabble tip for free right there..)

But this time, Scrabble fury has gone beyond chucking the Oxford English Dictionary at your mum's head.

The game's obsessives are gearing up for a 24-hour global demonstration, to protest changes made to the online game by manufacturer Mattel.

And how do Scrabble players protest? By, um, playing Scrabble.

The issue came after Mattel updated its version of Scrabble online. A petition with almost 5,500 signatures states that many people made lasting friendships playing scrabble online but the changes were "a great disappointment.

"Judging by the comments left on Scrabble playing message boards, dissatisfaction is almost universal," the petition continues.

"There are very few if any of the community of players who have messaged anything positive about the changes."

Fans of the game are upset they must now play a "random playing partner and therefore cannot choose against someone who regards themselves as a novice or against someone who considers themselves to be a serious player. This is frustrating."

Other grievances include the adverts at the completion of each turn, changes to the dictionary, the presentation of statistics and the aesthetics of the new layout.

With a collective fury greater than drawing seven vowels for the first hand, thousands of fans in more than ten countries will join together for a 24 hour Scrabblethon to protest changes.

The event will kick off in Christchurch New Zealand at on Friday 12th July at 23.00pm British Summer Time. For the next 24 hours events will take place throughout the world.

Campaigners say that while Mattel claims to have consulted players, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Scrabble players have had their views ignored.

John Lewis, who started the petition on the day the changes were made, said: “We want to show Mattel just how much they’ve let us ordinary players down. This may seem light-hearted but there are social impacts here.

"We’ve had messages from people who described online scrabble as their main interaction with the outside world.

"They've changed the dictionary to exclude millions of potential of users, peoples gaming histories have been lost, the rules have changed and people feel completely alienated from a game that they loved.

Thousands of people have left comments on the petition page including Alison from Australia who said: “Perhaps they could look at the perspective of many users, including people with disabilities.

"Some people including myself have little social contact or control over their circumstances. Scrabble allowed me to have this and choose my opponents and have some interest in relating to people again, without it being threatening. The version you have taken away was perfectly good.”

Sally from London wrote: “My grandfather, as a Director of Spears Toys, launched Scrabble to the UK market, so I know very well what a heritage brand this is to myself and millions of others. What could you possibly have gained by dumbing it down so comprehensively?”