I’ve been playing a new game called Clockwords. You come up with the longest words, using available letters, to defeat the enemies coming closer. Kill them before they reach you, and you win. I found this game last night, and I’m already bored. Most word games bore me easily. There’s the initial fun of learning how to play, then the challenge of figuring out the tricks, then the time it takes to score big, then beat that score. I’m making it to the end of that list faster than ever before. Clockwords has a ticker at the bottom of the scoring screen, showing you–in real time–the last words used by other online players. For a game using letters as ammunition, it’s a lot of four-letter-words. Do you want to hit your enemy with “sing” or with “surprisingly”? Maybe that’s why I grew so bored so fast. My targets were dying before they barely made it out into the open.

This weekend was Thanksgiving for us in Canada. We did the family thing on Sunday, with turkey and pie and board games afterwards. Last year, my dad had only just discovered Cards Against Humanity, and he was eager to play. This year, we played Scattegories. The people outside our immediate family refuse to play Trivial Pursuit with us anymore. That’s one of the games my brothers and I grew up on. Scattegories is great because there’s no right answer. There are a lot of answers, and you get more points when you find the most obscure ones. It’s a timed game with a list of categories: fruits, girl’s names, things that are sticky. Each round is one letter and three minutes to write down your best answer for each category. Then you share your list with the group. Because if someone else around the table came up with “glue”, neither of you get the point. The better “things that are sticky” answer starting with G is “guano”.

It’s something of a cliche that writers are good at trivia and word games, but it has nothing to do with intelligence. It has nothing to do with how many books I read. It has to do with our relentless search for the better answer, the lesser cliche, the idea nobody else around the table has come up with. I play word games every day, putting down sentence after sentence, building a book. Who wants to race me to the end?