Designers Who Should Be Spanked: Hasbro

The pen version of Boggle looks perfect for travel.

Boggle, a word-search game by Hasbro, is lots of fun. My wife and I are addicted to it and have long searched for a convenient travel version. We were excited when a friend spotted this miniature version of Boggle that assembles into a pen. It seemed to have everything, the dice box, the timer, and, of course, the pen. It turns out, however, that bad design has made this tiny version unplayable.

Hasbro Boggle Pen Design Flaw

The idea behind Boggle is to find words of three or more letters in a 4×4 array of letters. The standard game comes with a timer, 16 dice, a box to shake them in, and a plastic grid that lines them up. Great fun. The pen version has these same components.

The Boggle Pen from Hasbro seems to have everything you need to play Boggle in a small, convenient package.

The problem is that the cover over the dice grid is a little bit too much like the one in the standard set. Just like its full size counterpart, the translucent cover has the Boggle logo molded into the plastic. On the full size version, the cover can be removed after shaking up the dice. With the pen-version, the tiny dice would be easy to lose, so the cover is permanently attached. As you can see in the picture, it's impossible to read the letters through the logo in the cover.

The logo molded into the plastic cover makes the game unplayable as the letters are utterly unreadable.

If one person at Hasbro had bothered to try the game just once, the flaw would have been detected. Alas, decisions were apparently made by marketing types more interested in brand identification than in products that customers could actually use and enjoy.

© 2002 Adrian McCarthy. All rights reserved. Aidtopia and the author(s) of these pieces don't really condone spanking designers. That phrase is meant in the figurative sense. If you really want to help, lock the aforementioned designers into a room with a copy of The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman (ISBN: 0465067107). Last updated 1-NOV-2002.