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Picture of Create Scrabble-Like Game Tiles

Scrabble
is a trademark of Hasbro in the United States and Canada and by Mattel in other countries around the world. With this Instructable it is our aim to share steps on how to create a game that is similar to the experience of playing Scrabble, so we'll just say "Scrabble-Like" game tiles.

For all intents and purposes, the tiles will resemble what you might expect an official Scrabble set to contain but feel free to modify the rules in any way you wish. The necessity of creating a Scrabble-Like game for us came because we wanted to use the game for educational purposes within schools in Haiti but there was no version of Scrabble in Haitian Creole. There are many instances in various countries where a spoken language or dialect is not reflected in pertinent learning materials.

This Instructable assumes you have access to a computer, a laser cutter, and some materials for fabrication.

Done by: Allison Bland and Ralik John
 
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Step 1: Figure Out the Orthography

Picture of Figure Out the Orthography
In other words, determine how many of each letter you'll need. Luckily for us, much thought has already been given towards making a case for a Haitian Creole version of Scrabble. In fact, in 2009 Dr. Benjamin Hebbelthwaite of the University of Florida published a paper called "Scrabble as a tool for Haitian Creole literacy: Sociolinguistic and orthographic foundations." In this paper he breaks down the frequency in which each letter of the alphabet should occur to make for the most playable game. This is not necessarily straightforward depending on certain language patterns - for example in the Hasbro's version of Scrabble there is an artificially diminished amount of letter "s" so that you cannot just add it to the end of most words and make a lot of easy points. Samuel Morse figured out one way to do this.

Step 2: Design the Tiles

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We created the tiles using Inkscape because we knew we would fabricate them using a laser cutter that works well with Inkscape. Also Inkscape is pretty reliable and it is free. However, you can use whatever graphic design program you prefer. Scrabble tiles are 2 cm by 1.5 cm. You will need approximately 100 tiles. It is actually best to replicate 100 manually instead of making a table. Make the letter in a large font and then select the subscript to make the smaller indication of the value of the tile.

Step 3: Select a Material for Fabrication

Picture of Select a Material for Fabrication
We experimented with many different materials in the making of our tiles. We first used Matte board and were pleased with the results, particularly since it looked a lot like a traditional Scrabble game. However, in speaking with administrators from the school in Haiti we learned that it might be better to consider a material that will not become weathered due to the climate. For this reason, we moved on to produce additional sets using acrylic. We even created a Hot Orange transparent set which was pretty cool.

Step 4: Set-Up, Send, and Wait

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Once you have your material selected, you'll have to set-up just a few things to communicate the choice to the laser cutter you're using. We use an Epilog Mini printing with CUPS 1.4.1  Linux edition. You will probably know any additional measures you need to take for the laser cutter you are using and your particular operating system, but generally you will want to configure the laser height, the speed, and the intensity. Next make sure your cutter is turned on and the fumes release valve is opened. Once you are ready to send the file to be printed, be sure to stay by the laser cutter just in case any problem arises. You should expect the process to take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes depending on the settings you selected.

Step 5: Admire Your Tiles and Get Ready to Play!

Picture of Admire Your Tiles and Get Ready to Play!
You now have a lovely set of Scrabble-Like tiles! You can now play this game in communities that it has never been played in before and hook them to this game. As for the board, we just borrowed one from our set at home before we embarked on our trip to Haiti. In the future, it would not be very time consuming to create one in a graphic design program and print it out or just draw one on poster board. It is also possible to play directly on a table without a game board which brings an excellent opportunity to create some custom community rules. The game made a lovely hospitality gift and the school wanted many more sets than we had prepared.


Check out the video we made of the exchange of the game!




Mojo_JoJo3 years ago
Awesome, I've been toying with this idea for some time now but since I don't have a laser cutter I'll probably "wood burn" mine or maybe try etching.
Scriptone5 years ago
That's so inspiring thanks for the great ideas!
ChrysN5 years ago
Wonderful project, those laser cutters are great tools to have.
Creativeman5 years ago
Outstanding! Cman