I did not learn to read until I was six. This was not from a lack of effort on my part or determination from my teachers or family. I simply did not understand the concept until I was six. Many children learn to read at an earlier age some later. But the one advantage of learning to read at six is the experience is still crystal clear in my mind.

I remember sitting in the dinning room struggling through a book, when suddenly the word I was sounding out made perfect sense, and the next one, and the next one. Over the next 30 minutes the book came alive to me. Reading word by word was quickly replaced by reading an entire sentence. Sure, I was still struggling with words that were difficult to sound out like cough or laughter, but it finally clicked. At that moment, I fell in love with reading.

My love for reading turned to a love of word games. All word games. Crossword puzzles, word searches, spelling bees, and puns. Not everyone loves word games, some even hate them. One of my goals as president of Smart Box Design is to create word games that everyone can love. How am I doing this? By creating word games that players of any age or ability can be successful at. WordPop! is an example of this. You can succeed by either making small or large words, simple or complex, clever or plain. It does not matter. There are plenty of incentives to make harder words and the interface encourages experimentation and exploration. I get many emails from players commenting on words they have discovered by playing WordPop!

Word Watch continues this formula. Word Watch is unique in that players do not have to solve the jumble to keep playing. All other jumble or word scramble games end the second a user can not figure out the target word. Word Watch gives credit for making the best word even if it does not use all the letters. Again, no other jumble game allows this. Of course solving the jumble puzzle results in a higher reward. But players should be rewarded for making the best word they can and the more they play the better their word making ability becomes. The game is fun because as long as the player uses their imagination to create words they will continue to win. Word Watch has 18 levels each one encouraging the user to try harder and harder. It becomes very addictive very quickly.

I encourage you to try word games such as WordPop! and WordWatch. They are fun, relaxing, engaging and just might have you fall in love with word games too.

I am a contributing writer to PDAGround. Once a month Andrew sends out a topic to several developers. Below is this months questions and my responses.

Questions: Will Pocket PC or Palm OS games still be popular given all the latest comptetition. Also it is thought the future of mobile games belongs to Java . What do you think about this situation? Will graphics accelerator help to PDA change these ideas?

Response: I don’t think people purchase PDA’s to play games, they buy a PDA for the organization tools and the fact it can run games is a huge bonus. I don’t see that niche going away. Additionally the Pocket PC is making giants steps in supporting graphics and sound plus the tools for developers keep improving. This is allowing developers to make a traditional desktop game and a mobile version simultaneously. In regards to Java, some developers love it others hate it. Java is positioning itself as the development environment to use as it is supported across such varied hardware, e.g., phones, PCs, and PDAs. However, experience has shown that Java apps need a lot of customization on each hardware type which puts it at a disadvantage. Flash and .net are both being pushed hard by their respective companies to compete with Java and I personally am a big fan of Flash. Flash phones are gaining momentum positioning it very well especially when you consider that over 90% of PCs already have Flash installed.

I’ve been running Smart Box Design for over two years now. Smart Box Design developes and publishes premier games for the mobile market, including Palms and Pocket PCs. I will be posting product reviews and my opinion of the industry.