The mobile gaming world had its lexicon expanded today with the release of Slang N’ Friendz for iOS and Android. The word game challenges players from around the world to bust out slang terms that are usually rejected by traditional word games.
Furthermore, the game is backed by hip hop artist, Ludacris (Christopher Bridges), who said in a press release: “In a time when so much of the world is divided, technology has the opportunity to bring us together. Slang N’ Friendz encourages users to connect, be friendly and identify what they have in common through language. It’s also a chance for different generations to learn about each other’s unique forms of communication and find ways to use language to bridge generation gaps.”
Edwin Benton, CEO, founder and creator of Slang N’ Friendz, spoke with [a]listdaily and describes it as “a reinvention of the word game.”
“It’s similar to traditional word games, but we allow you to play commonly used words that aren’t allowed in other games,” said Benton. “What we’ve done is add slang dictionaries from around the world, and instead of denying points, we give users bonus points for playing slang words.”
Benton further discussed the uniqueness of the game by stating that “the interesting thing about slang is that a lot of words are dual—in that they’re regular words and slang words. So, you may get bonus points when you think you’re playing a regular word like ‘cool.’ You really discover a whole new world of slang by playing the game. We don’t just have American slang, we have Australian, Canadian and UK slang. If you’re playing against another country and they play their slang word, you can click on it and get the definition. That’s how we’re using this game to unite people from different cultures.”
Uniting the world with slang is quite an undertaking, but Benton is up to the challenge. He details how the game will keep up with slang words, which are adopted in regions.
“We have a feature in the game where if you play a word and it’s not in our dictionary, you can suggest it,” said Benton. “That word comes to us and we research it. If it’s a real word, we add it to our database. We’re in the early phases of how we present slang words—right now we’re only showing the word’s definition, but eventually we’ll have more information like its origin, how it’s used in a sentence, and maybe a short GIF. We plan on taking slang words to another level.”
When asked whether outdated slang words would be removed from the game, Benton said: “No. Generally, different generations use the same slang words, and some words die out, but they’re still in slang history. My grandmother has slang words that we didn’t know about, but we’ve added them to the dictionary because we want older players to be recognized and for the younger generation to learn about what some of those slang words were. We don’t take out slang words, we only add ones that are in popular use.”
Benton then talked about how Ludacris became involved with the game.
“Ludacris is a wordie himself, and he plays various word games the same way I did before I created Slang N’ Friendz,” said Benton. “He realized the same problem I did—that there are words that we use that couldn’t be played. I was introduced to his manager by a friend of mine, and I told him what the game was about and that we were looking for a celebrity. Instantly, a light bulb went off, because the manager plays games with Ludacris all the time. He presented the idea to Ludacris, who loved it, and they were completely involved from then on.”
So how is Ludacris helping to promote the game? “Ludacris is the face of the game,” Benton said. “He’s going to tweet about it, he’s also done a commercial for the company, and we have access to his likeness and voice in the game. So, when you play certain words, he comes in and says certain things. He’s all the way integrated into Slang N’ Friendz, physically and digitally.”
Benton stated that bringing on a celebrity face is very beneficial for standing out in the mobile game space, and that Ludacris would be posting about the game to his 30+ million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. That’s in addition to the company’s own social media campaigns on Facebook and Instagram.
“There are a few different ways to stand out, but having a celebrity on board—who has the followers and can get the word out—was key for us,” said Benton. “It’s something we wanted to do straight out of the gate. Second to that is making the game different. There are plenty of word games out there, but ours is very unique. We also have the ability to add flags to your profile. Our goal is to connect everyone from around the world, so you can type in the name of your country or state and your flag will be represented on your [in-game] profile.”
With Ludacris being a wordie and gamer, the obvious question was whether or not players would one day have a chance to play against the music artist. “At some point, yes,” said Benton. “We are developing a system where you get to play against Ludacris. It will involve three different levels, and Ludacris will be the hard level. It’ll be an AI, but it will feature his likeness. We’re waiting to see what the response is before moving in that direction.”
But the big question is whether Ludacris will contribute to the game’s soundtrack. “We haven’t talked about that yet, but maybe so,” said Benton. “We have some cool music created by our in-house sound guy, and I’m sure—if things go the way we expect them to—we may be able to get a cool track from Ludacris onto the game.”
Slang N’ Friendz will monetize in various ways, including through traditional ads. “But we’ve done something unique to separate us from the competitors,” said Benton. “We’ve added customizable tile sets and backgrounds. Some games just have a gold tile, but you can change to five or six different colors of tile, with different backgrounds, in Slang N’ Friends. We can add to that continuously, and they’re bought using the in-game currency system, Slang Change.”
Benton also talked about whether the game will release for additional platforms, particularly Facebook Messenger.
“There has definitely been some talks, and we’re planning the messenger app version as we speak,” said Benton. “We just want to get off the ground first, see what our users want, and listen to them. We also have a physical game coming out under the Slang N’ Friends brand that I think users will be very excited about. Be on the lookout for that within the next five or six months.”