Wordle: A love story gone viral
By Hollen Wheeler
An online word game launched in October 2021 has gone viral and, in the last month, become a worldwide sensation. Moreover, the game’s backstory is a love story.
“Wordle” challenges a player to guess a five-letter word in six tries. What makes this game unique is that Wordle is only available once a day, it is free and ad free, and the player’s successful results (or not) can be shared (or not) daily on social media.
To play, type “Wordle” in a browser or go to https://www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/. There is no Wordle app and it is not available on Google Play. The player begins to guess the word cold turkey; in other words, no hints, but the guesses must be legitimate words. As the player guesses, the letters change color. If the guess has a letter or letters that are part of the correct answer and in the right spot, the correct letter shows in a green box. If a guessed letter is a part of the correct answer but in the wrong spot, the letter shows in a yellow box. If the letter is not part of the winning word, it shows up in a gray box. Keeping the correct letters and moving around the yellow ones is more challenging than expected. A few of the recent winning words were “wince,” “robot,” and “point.”
Wordle calculates the player’s daily guesses and statistics in a grid that can be and is shared every day on Twitter and Facebook. When sharing the game online, the grid shows the number of guesses with the corresponding green, gray and yellow colors but without spoiling the answer. Because the player only has one shot a day, it has added to the game’s popularity and intrigue. Some fans count the minutes until midnight so they can be the first to play. Others say sharing the game results with friends and family has been a fun way to connect more regularly.
The game has a romantic beginning. In 2013, Josh Wardle, a software engineer in Brooklyn, created a prototype for Wordle for his wife who fancies them. He tabled it only to resurrect it again during the pandemic. A play on his last name, Wardle finished developing the game and sent to his wife last fall. The couple played each other for a few weeks and then shared the game with friends and family. By January 1, hundreds of thousands had played, and today it is in the millions. Wardle says that he will never charge for the game and that it’s for fun not data collection.
Someone at Google must be a fan. If you type “wordle” into the Google search engine, the google insignia shows in Wordle format spelling out G-O-O-G-L-E. Join the worldwide word game today and see how many tries it takes to get it right.