Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Amazon Kindle Game "Every Word" Uses N-Word

A lot of Kindle owners were very excited when Amazon Digital Services released two new Kindle games, Every Word and Shuffled Row. I downloaded them both a few days ago, and have been playing Every Word for a few days. The object is to take a 7-letter word and create as many words as possible from it.

I just didn't know the N-word was one of those words.

I was playing last night, and had nearly completed a board. The main word was GASPING, and I was missing one 6-letter word. Not wanting to leave an incomplete board before I moved to the next level, I logged on to an online Scrabble anagram generator to see if I could find it.

The generator gave me three choices: agings, gaping, paging. The game accepted gaping and paging, but had a word in between that I just wasn't getting.

Three different Scrabble generators gave me the same three words, so I decided to give up and see what the word was. I hit the button, and Easy Word filled in the missing word:



Did they just use the N-word in a Kindle game?! Hell yes, Amazon used the N-word in a Kindle game!

Normally, this is a humor blog, but I didn't find this in the least bit funny. As the proud father of two black children, that is one word that I find extremely offensive.

I don't know if Amazon Digital Services thought this was an acceptable word to include in their game dictionary, or if some hack programmer thought it would be funny to drop in, but using the N-word this way is wildly inappropriate and something I never would have expected from Amazon.

UPDATE:


Amazon's Senior PR Director for Kindle, Stephanie Mantello, sent me a note that they had halted distribution of the game, were going to fix it, and then begin redistributing the game. They would also make an updated version of the game available to people who had already downloaded it.


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11 comments:

  1. Bad, and definitely should be fixed, pronto.

    But it may have been just a rogue algorithm that turned out a false positive for the word, which would have appeared that way on sites featuring lyrics.

    Not excusing it... just trying to understand the "how." I seriously doubt a human was involved there.

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  2. Ike, that's a good explanation, and one I didn't think of. I hope that is the case. But still, it seems like someone would have combed the original list of acceptable words, or had a master list of words that have to be removed.

    But I think you're right that it was more likely a computer error. I'm just stunned that the word made it into the master list.

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  3. Huh. Why wasn't the singular form of the word on the list?

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  4. Darryl, I don't know. There are some words that don't make the board, so I'm not sure.

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  5. But it is in the dictionary. Should they then remove the word satan, because I dont like thinking about him?

    I dont know. Yes I totally agree it is a horrible word, in my country we have a K word.

    And I hate it and it's connotations.

    But it is still a word, as it is in the dictionary...

    I dunno... tough one.

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  6. Ok wait - I guess if it is forcing a word that has to be used (I have not played the game), then it is not acceptable... Especially since children will be playing.

    If it is an OPTIONAL word, it could still *allow* it without requiring it.

    Am I making sense?# :)

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  7. Calico,

    These are good comments and questions. I don't know where you're from to know what the K-word is. In American the N-word is considered a horrible word. You would never use it in polite society (black people will use it with each other, but if I used it, I could get beat up).

    As far as whether it's in the dictionary or not, that is a separate issue. I see the dictionary, especially an extensive one like the Oxford English Dictionary, as a historical and language record. Just because a word is in it doesn't mean it is a "good" word or a polite word.

    For example, the C-word -- the word for a woman's anatomy -- is in a lot of dictionaries, but that doesn't mean I should use it in public. (Coincidentally, the C-word was also an acceptable word in the other Kindle game. But because it doesn't carry the same centuries of history and hatred as the N-word, I didn't get upset about it).

    As far as the word being optional or required, that depended on one's goal in the game. It was certainly possible to progress and even win without it, but if one was playing for a perfect game, then it was a required word, or else the game would be less than perfect.

    Like I said, great comments and questions. I appreciate the discussion. Thank you.

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  8. I don't think Amazon should have removed niggas from the dictionary for Every Word. Technically, it is a valid word and should be accepted as a word. It's not like the Kindle said "You're just a goddamn nigga", it just thought it was a valid word, which it is. Should Amazon censor the Oxford American Dictionary on Kindle so no one sees any "bad words"?

    I'm keeping Every Word at version 1.0!

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  9. Alex, I think there's a difference between using the word in a dictionary (where it should stay) and using it for a game, where it's used for entertainment purposes.

    So no, the Oxford American Dictionary should not be edited. That's a repository of knowledge and a record of language. Every Word is just a game played for fun. There's a huge difference.

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  10. Yes,its a game.In any case next time,"its just a novel, not a dictionary"possibly?
    When you begin down this road, where's the end?There's now individuals calling for Amazon to uproot Christian literature,erotica, and possibly different things from the Kindle store in light of the fact that they don't need their youngsters to see it.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>>>
    hidden object game online

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a difference between a game where it's not necessary, and a novel where it can be used effectively as part of the story. As I said above, a dictionary is a repository of knowledge and a record of language. It shows us what words we use or used to use. It's descriptive, meaning it tells us how we use language, rather than proscriptive, which tells us how we should use it.

      But in a game situation, it's not necessary to use it. It's understood to be an offensive word, and its inclusion in the game did nothing to further the game or make it better.

      I think a clear line can be drawn between a game and everything else. As far as Christian literature and erotica, I don't believe literature should be censored or removed because some people don't agree with it. There are certain topics that may be so terrible as to not be allowed in the store -- stories that glorify rape or child sexual abuse, for example -- but just because someone doesn't like a particular genre or style doesn't mean we should remove it.

      Delete

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