There Was Only One Way To Respond To The N-Word In Letterpress

I couldn’t find the words to respond to the appearance of that most unacceptable of racial slurs in a random game of Letterpress on my iPhone this weekend. Luckily I found the right letters.

Letterpress is an iOS word game in which friends or total strangers can take turns using a set amount of letters to spell out words. Once checked against the game’s dictionary, the player’s word is registered, taking possession of any unclaimed letters in the grid. The game ends when all letters are claimed, with the player owning the most winning.

This random game really should have ended after the racial slur showed up on my screen, but I saw an opportunity and went for it. I ended up losing the game anyway.

I’m not saying that friends shouldn’t be able to write any words they wish to each other, no matter how insensitive. I’m just saying that perhaps the word restrictions should be a little bit more stringent when playing against random players, so I don’t have to deal with this bullshit.


    You played a game about making words and are upset that your opponent made a word? An arbitrary arrangement of letters cannot be inherently offensive, that's just a fact. There's no need to forget the history of words and how they have been used to categorise/insult/endear/praise things, but to be scared of their appearance? Maybe if we just globally censor the word and pretend it never existed we'll never make the same mistake again and everything will be all better... wait. I hear some parts of Germany did something like that...

    The game wasn't 'Insult your opponent,' it was 'spell out a word,' unless you can make a case for why 'nigger' isn't a word (which is surely more insulting to the generations of people who had to wear it, to just pretend it never happened) then frankly you're the one with a problem here. Rationality, I know it can be hard, but it really works!

      The altitude at which this article flew over you head means it probably entered orbit.


      I've said it again and again, racism only exists in this day and age because people want it to.
      We are smart enough and evolved enough to know how and why it affects people.. (fear of change or difference) but instead of moving on we attach a stigma to a word and get bent out of shape about it.

        An N, a couple of G's, an I, an E, an R, an S...

        Only Gingers can call other Gingers Gingers :)

        One must ask why when he saw these letters then he chose to use them in a racial context and not think smarter? Tim Minchin made a wonderful joke about this himself as above. One does not need to always take the ignorant route with such things, one can be smarter about such things.

          Actually Tim Minchin didn't do it plural but the point remains the same. "Just 6 seemingly harmless letters, arranged in a way that will form a word ... A couple of Gs, an R and an E, and I and an N."

      What is the point of words and the arrangement of glyphs but to communicate meaning according to the grammar and interpretation of their target? If words really are an arbitrary arrangement of letters, then "sddfsdfgh" has just as much meaning as "esoteric". A word exists only because we attribute a specific meaning and intent to the collection of letters that it consists of. Due to that attributed meaning, that specific combination can indeed evoke reactions of fear and anger in a person. Same as if you showed them a picture of someone harming someone familiar to them.

      To put it another way. If someone punches you in the face, do you just shrug and say "Oh, it was just an arbitrary movement of their arm muscles with no inherent malice or offense."?

        Actually no. Meaning is deferred. Constantly. Derrida. A sign is constructed from a signifier and a signified. These signifiers and signifieds are in turn signs. Which in turn consist of signifiers and the signified. There is no meaning. The author is dead. Barthes.

        What if it was your face that hit his arm? A bit of basic literature theory is always good to know.

        And finally. A chair is a chair not because it a chair but because it is NOT a bed, a car, a book, a person., a rope ... And so on and so on

    How offensive!

    I hope you booked yourself a course of therapy to help yourself through this stressful situation, its always good to have someone to talk to about these things.

    Though, you could always have a cup of concrete and do as Ronnie Johns 'Chopper' says.

    I like how its published by "kotaku" and not one particular author. Hope this is a re-post from the American site, where they actually think something like this is news worthy.

    We need less re-posts, some of the things getting posted are completely irrelevant to the Australian audience, like the hurricane stories.

      Seriously, you don't think the Hurricane is relevant?

      If you don't like the post why comment? Why bother. Just go and be an obnoxious human being somewhere else.

        Out of curiousity Mark, why dont you, or other mods here, take this same stance on the countless posts here that bash, insult, degrade and troll writers like Luke and Brian?

        I like this site, but I am sick of reading comments that constantly insult the writers

          Go live in North Korea if you want to see nothing but praise for your glorious writers.

          You could take a leaf from what Mark just said, and that is, if you don't like the comments, why complain about them? You can see how ludicrous that suggestion is.

            You've completely misunderstood the essence of what I was writing - thank you for your non-contribution

              I might suggest to you that perhaps you forgot to put it in the cake.

                Comments complaining about people complaining about complaining about comments. Ludicrous indeed.

          Hey DansDans -- I agree. Some of the comments are getting out of hand. We don't want to censor people, but at the same time useless, negative, insulting comments suck. It's about finding the balance. Also -- it's hard to keep track of every single comment. If you see one that's pretty bad. Please feel free to use the report button. That's helps us out a lot. :)

        And this is why I always read a Serrels Article
        + 1 has now been replaced in my book with
        + Mark Serrels

      If you don't like it, why'd you bother commenting? You've put in the effort to read the article AND to craft a lengthy (based on the Kotaku average) comment on it, so you clearly have some degree of interest in this. Or is it just that you believe people should stop reading the articles and pay more attention to your complaining?
      Oh, and if you think the hurricane stories are irrelevant to gaming in Australia, maybe consider how many servers are based there that we rely on for online play, content etc.

      That's a cracker of a comment!

    That's nothing! Words With Friends told me that 'negro' is 'not an acceptable word'. I don't appreciate a video game scolding me on what is 'acceptable' in this day and age! It's political correctness gone mad etc...


    (Awesome segment on South Park)

    You Kotakuans.. Kotakuites? Kotakites? Kotakians? sure are a funny bunch. You pick on articles and you pick on people for picking on articles...

    You really don't think this is a "holier than thou art" article about how this dude is so anti-racism that he's the best person on the planet? Surely this is the most white and most United States thing a person could be.

    It's just a shame that Mark took it upon himself to defend it.

      Actually, agreed.
      I read this and just thought, "Wow, are you just a modern day hero; why don't you make sure to tell everyone about it? Oh wait..."
      It did seem mighty self-congratulatory.

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