In the start of 2022, images of the green and yellow squares began popping up on social media. A simple word game became the newest social media and pop culture phenomenon – Wordle.
For anyone not familiar with the online game, the aim of Wordle is to guess a five-letter word in six tries. If you guess the right letter in the right place, the tile turns green. If it’s the right letter in the wrong place, it turns yellow. A grey tile means the letter isn’t in the word at all.
Some people can guess the right word and can win in a few minutes. For some of us, like me, it takes….looonger.
Once you finish, you can post on Twitter how many guesses it took without spoiling the challenge for others. It’s the same word every day for everyone, and you can play only once a day.
The game was created by software engineer Josh Wardle of New York. The game had humble beginnings. The New York Times reported that he designed the game as something for him and his partner to play. In October, he released the game to the masses. By mid-January, The Guardian reported, the game had 2 million players. And Wardle did it without ads or gimmicks. You don’t have to sign up with your email or give personal information to play.
British psychologist Lee Chambers, who specializes in environmental and well-being coaching, told Insider that Wordle was so appealing because it stimulated both the language- and logic-processing areas of our brains. Like all games, it also leads to a release of dopamine, a hormone that allows us to feel pleasure and satisfaction.
“Making Wordle I specifically rejected a bunch of the things you’re supposed to do for a mobile game,” Wardle told NPR. He deliberately didn’t include push notifications, allow users to play endlessly or build in other tools commonly used today to pull users into playing apps for as long as possible.
Wardle said the rejection of those engagement tricks might have fueled the game’s popularity after all — “where the rejection of some of those things has actually attracted people to the game because it feels quite innocent and it just wants you to have fun with it.”
“It going viral doesn’t feel great, to be honest. I feel a sense of responsibility for the players,” he told The Guardian. ” I really owe them to keep things running and make sure everything’s working correctly.”– NPR
But Wardle said he has especially enjoyed stories of how the game has helped people keep connected.
“They’ll have a family chat group where they share their Wordle results with one another,” Wardle told NPR. “And especially during COVID, it being a way for people to connect with friends and family that they couldn’t otherwise see, and it just provides this really easy way to touch base with others.”
But here are some of the key ingredients, that made Wordle so popular:
- Simplicity. It’s really easy to pick up how to play.
- Time. It only takes a few minutes most days, so everyone can fit it in somewhere.
- Social aspect. The blind sharing feature (added later, after a player started sharing their own results) adds to the social aspect, without having spoilers.
- Addictiveness. The one-a-day aspect leaves users wanting more.
- Free to play, with no sign-up or data harvesting.
- Novelty. It’s unusual to start a game by guessing against a blank sheet, with no information at all. This sets it apart from sudokus and crosswords, for example.
- Nice interface. Very simple, but well-designed and clear, with neat animations.
Know the strategy: Vowels or Consonants?
Facebook groups have now popped up, while numerous articles and players offer their own strategy tips. Using as many vowels as possible in the first guess is one tactic – “adieu” offers four of them. Another way to try as many common consonants as possible with a word like “snort”.
If you guess the word within six tries, the game gives you the option of sharing your prowess on social media. The numbers in the tweet displayed here, mean it was game No. 244 and she guessed the correct answer in six of six attempts:
Wordle 244 6/6— fuslie (@fooozley) February 19, 2022
Ok I literally got stuck on the last attempt for over an hour and I looked up words on Google and found it there so I'm a cheater and mad at myself but I'm confessing here!!