Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nametopia


You know you've been there... playing Scrabble or Words with Friends and the only thing you see in your available letters is a proper name. Proper names cannot be used unless they also happen to be words, and by the way, did you know Jane was also a word? Yes, I've successfully played Jane. Wouldn't it be heaven to have a similar game that only allowed names!? Let's imagine...

As this exciting prospect ran across my brain, I realized that the biggest change from the original would be point values. In Scrabble-type games, the letters that are used less frequently in words receive higher point values. We would use that same logic in our game and some adjustments would be required to compensate for the differences between English words and names.

I conducted my own rudimentary analysis to calculate the number of each letter in given names. Using the list of names given in the United States in 2011, I did a search for each letter and wrote down the resulting number. Please note that this does take into account every spelling of every name recorded by the SSA for 2011.

Here are the results, from most used to least used. I have also shown the cutoffs for the point values I have assigned.

A - 36,876
E - 21,702
N - 20,104
I - 18,791
L - 14,554
R - 13,316
Y - 10,698_____1 point
S - 8,614
H - 7,995
O - 7,835
M - 7,007_____2 points
T - 6,214
D - 6,099
K - 5,428_____3 points
C - 3,952
J - 3,705
U - 3,163_____4 points
B - 2,788
V - 2,412
Z - 2,367
G - 1,938_____5 points
P - 991
F - 814
W - 794_____8 points
X - 576
Q - 319_____10 points

As you can tell, letter usage is quite different in names compared to English words. While the letter T is pretty common in words, it is fairly average when it comes to usage in names. Because of this difference, the point values I have assigned vary from the point values in Words with Friends, as you can see below (WwF values are in parentheses).

A - 1 (1)
B - 5 (4)
C - 4 (4)
D - 3 (2)
E - 1 (1)
F - 8 (4)
G - 5 (3)
H - 2 (3)
I - 1 (1)
J - 4 (10)
K - 3 (5)
L - 1 (2)
M - 2 (4)
N - 1 (2)
O - 2 (1)
P - 8 (4)
Q - 10 (10)
R - 1 (1)
S - 2 (1)
T - 3 (1)
U - 4 (2)
V - 5 (5)
W - 8 (4)
X - 10 (8)
Y - 1 (3)
Z - 5 (10)

The next steps in creating this game are determining how many tiles of each letter should be in the bag of letters and... a much more complicated task... how many/which spelling variations of each name should be allowed. ;)

What do you think? Is this a game you would play? Would you assign the point values differently?

How many points does your name score? KELLI scores a whopping 7.

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