Creating A Word Game In Pidgin

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - December 24, 2008
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Mark Bell playing Da Scramble
Mark Bell playing Da Scramble

Mark Bell, who prides himself in being able to turn his pidgin on and off like a light switch, created a game called Da Scramble. It’s a crossword game in pidgin similar to Scrabble except there’s no board and no points to add up. The person to get rid of all their tiles first is the winner. Players spell pidgin words in a crossword manner with all their tiles facing up.

“If you can be persuasive enough to convince someone a word is pidgin, that can count too,” explained the game’s inventor. “I’ve watched folks play it, and they are having a blast.”

The game is available at Tinker Toys at Kahala Mall, Island Treasures in Koko Marina and Island Treasures in Kailua, as well as other venues.

Bell says speaking pidgin isn’t just the words.

“There’s a music about it,” says Bell in perfect English. “You don’t really speak pidgin unless you know the pattern of how to do it.”

Bell, who grew up in Waianae through sixth grade,

wanted to come up with a fun, low-tech activity for families to do together so they could interact and have fun. Through that, he came up with the idea of a pidgin version of Scrabble.

“I called up the manufactures of Scrabble and asked them if they would be interested in creating Scrabble for regional areas,” he says. “They said no, and said I could go ahead and do it if I wanted to, as long as I don’t use their name and the words from their instructions.”

One of Bell’s first entrepreneurial ventures was when he was 21 years old. The Maryknoll High School graduate created his own brand of Polynesian Kasava Chips, where he grew the kasava and cooked, packaged, sold and delivered the chips. His background includes working in sales and marketing as well as creating his own company, Postcard CD. A self-described idea man, Bell created a postcard with a CD attached to it for companies, featuring tourist spots such as the Polynesian Cultural Center and Hanauma Bay.

With the support of his wife Minako and their 16-year-old son Matthew, the Hawaii Kai family now has a new game that generations can enjoy together. Bell already is working on a customized version of the game for the surf community. He also can personalize Da Scramble for businesses that would like their own version for promotional purposes.

For more information, call 348-3933, or log onto

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