If You Have Ghosts, You Have Everything


This week, I attempted to import data from a wide variety of APIs, with no real luck. Since I wasn’t sure whether it was my problem, my computer’s problem, the APIs’ problem or something else entirely (evil spirits?) I eventually gave up and just used a local file.

So I decided to try to create a digital version of one of my favorite road-trip games, “ghost.” The idea is that players take turns adding letters to a piece of a word. Whoever actually completes the word gets a letter (a la “horse” in basketball), G, H, O, S or T, and the first player who has “GHOST” loses. But you can’t just throw out any letter – if your opponent challenges you and you can’t name the word you were building towards, you get a letter.

(Fun nerdy music history fact – the British folk-rock band Fairport Convention named their third album “Unhalfbricking” after a word the lead singer claimed she was trying to make, playing ghost in the tour van.)

At any rate, this version is very simple. Whoever makes a word gets a point. Whoever adds a letter that doesn’t fit into any makeable word gets a point. (And it occurs to me now that I definitely should have refined that a little further – that bluffing is a real part of the gameplay, and there should be a “challenge” button that rewards a successful challenge [opponent gets a point] or punishes an unsuccessful one… if I work back into this, that’s the first thing I’ll fix).

And then I drew some ghosts with the mouse in Photoshop and integrated them into the background, with its Republican-necktie color scheme.

Inspirations for this were other word games, really – there’s a new-ish one I like called “Spelltower” (http://www.spelltower.com/) and then the classics (Boggle, Scrabble, etc.) in both analog and digital forms. I also found a lot of inspiration looking at the Wordnik API, which lists several projects that use their database, from games to word-of-the-day apps to password generators. Actually Wordnik itself is an inspiration.

Game is here.

Code is here.

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