Simple but Fun Word Game Goes Viral

I’d never heard of the game until reading today’s Wall Street Journal.

The name of the game is Wordle, and it was created by John Wardle (seems like he was meant to create such a game).

Wordle is a word guessing game that tasks the player with correctly identifying a random five-letter word.

You only get six tries to guess the word, but the game will give you hints along the way.

You’ll start out by randomly guessing any valid five-letter word. From there, the game will tell you if each letter you guess is either in the word and in the correct place (green), in the word but not in the correct place (yellow), or not in the word at all (gray).

Here is an example:

The game player first typed in the guess VAGUE.

The gray color of the letters V and G indicates those two letters are not in the word. The yellow color of the letters A and U indicates that those two letters are in the word, but not in those positions. The green color of the letter E indicates it is in the word and in the correct position.

The player then typed in the word AMUSE, and continued from there until they correctly guessed the word ACUTE.

Wardle, the man who invented Wordle, is a software engineer from New York. He created a prototype in 2013 and during the pandemic he dusted it off for his partner, who liked playing word games.

It started to take off in mid-November, Mr. Wardle said, when technologist Andy Baio put a link to the game in his blog. Then Mr. Wardle noticed fans in New Zealand were posting results with color boxes they drew themselves. So Mr. Wardle made it easy to share results, and things went viral. He said 1.8 million people played last Friday, compared with 90 people on Nov. 1, 2021.

Talk about exponential growth.

There is only one new word released per day. The site is very simple, with no log-in required and there are no ads. If you want to try it, here is a link: https://www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/

As you might imagine when something goes viral like this, there are some people who become obsessed.

The WSJ article talks about people developing spreadsheets to try and come up with the best starting word, and there are online forums where people debate whether it is better to start with a word that has lots of vowels or consonants.

I just played it for the first time, and I have to admit I used one of the words mentioned in the article as a good starting word. It seemed to work for me, at least on today’s puzzle. I’ll see how it works tomorrow.

I don’t see myself becoming obsessed, but it seems like it’s a fun game that might take 5-10 minutes out of your day.

Sources:

*images from ScreenRant and Birmingham Live

23 thoughts on “Simple but Fun Word Game Goes Viral

  1. As Margie suggested, it is just like Mastermind. I played a similar game with my students involving numbers. You can choose more digits for older children. You only use three symbols in the game (+, -, and a checkmark.) Marking a plus means one digit is correct and in the right location. One checkmark means a digit is correct but in the wrong location. A minus means none of those digits are in the number. The idea is to figure out the mystery number in the fewest number of guesses. It’s one of those things that’s easier to see in action than explain by words. Kids that like logic loved it. For some, it was too much thinking.

    Example (The mystery number is 42) I’m using two digits to make it easier to understand.
    The first guess is 59 and the person would mark — as neither a 5 or 9 is in the mystery number.
    The next guess is 71 and the person would mark — as neither a 7 or 1 is in the mystery number.
    The next guess is 34 and the person would mark one checkmark as either there is a 3 or 4, but it is in the wrong place,
    The next guess is 83 (the person tried moving the 3 to see if that was the correct digit. When they receive a — they know that there is no 3 and the 4 from the previous guess must be in the tens place.
    The next guess is 46 and the person would mark + meaning the 4 or 6 is in the correct spot. The guesser should know that it has to be the 4.
    The next guess is 42 and the person marks ++ (six turns to get the mystery number.)

    If you gave up a long time ago because none of this makes sense, find another game. 🤣

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  2. I downloaded it and played it for a couple of days, then it stopped working. I deleted it but it now says it isn’t available to download again as it is being worked on. As you say, it’s a fun way to spend a few minutes so I hope Mr Wordless sorts his game out!

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  3. An article in today’s Guardian says that Mr. Wardle is having a problem as the game has grown so quickly in popularity. It is now taking up so much of his time and he doesn’t want to moneterise it and have it become like all the other amusements on the web. I wish him luck!

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    1. He ought to monetise it not least because it’s now a TV game in the U.K. called Lingo. I never watch it because I rant too much at peoples complete idiocy in repeating letters which have already been shown to be incorrect. My wife loves it 🤦‍♂️😤

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  4. I saw that on Twitter last week and had to find out more. I stumbled upon a generator that you could use to play these games on your own time, multiple times a day. I tried it once and that was it. I don’t like the fact that it’s always 5 letters.

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