You see it everywhere; not a phone or a car, but Wordle! The awe of Wordle’s simplicity, frustration, and satisfaction has officially taken over. The number of players has grown from a mere hundred people in November 2021, to over 3 million to date. The wide range of players has also been astonishing: from middle schoolers who compete to see who can get the word first, to retired citizens who need a clever way to pass their time. Let’s explore Wordle, its humble beginnings, and what makes it the phenom that it has become.
John Wardle, a software engineer, was merely developing a word game for his girlfriend, Palak Shah. The game was played for a while among Shah and Wardle’s relatives. The family was fascinated. Wardle realized he had created the next big thing, so he quickly released the game to the public. However, he needed a clever name, so he decided to choose WORDLE, after his last name.
In order for startup games to thrive in today’s competitive digital world, they need a captivating aspect. Yet with Wordle, captivating equals simplicity. When you open the website, there are no distractions, ads, pop ups, or other links. It is just a black screen with “WORDLE” at the top and thirty blank squares. Wardle is very firm on a simple design, as he claims it creates a fun game that does not do anything with your eyes or data. The most intriguing part is that there is only one hidden word per day. In other words, a person can only play Wordle once a day. Wardle does this to ensure scarcity, which leaves a player wanting more.
The objective of the game is straightforward: Players must use their guessed words to uncover the secret word. When you open the website, a full keyboard will appear directly below thirty blank squares (six rows with five squares). The player must guess any five-letter word, and then the game will reveal any clues for the hidden word. If a letter is grey, that means the letter is not in the final word. If it is yellow, the letter is in the final word, but in the wrong place. If a letter is green, that means the letter is in the final word and in the right place. After the first guess, and after the clues are revealed, it is up to the player to continue. If the secret word is not uncovered by the sixth and final try, the site will reveal it for you. And that is the game. Of course, if you do fail to guess the word, there is always tomorrow’s Wordle!
The game has become so popular that it has now found its place among social media platforms. A growing amount of content creators on tiktok have displayed their love for the game. Some creators have devised new ways to approach Wordle with different strategies, which they reveal to millions of users on social media. Other users have found ways to compete with one another, without giving away the secret word. On Instagram, numerous companies have used Wordle to brilliantly promote their brands. Yet Wordle has its drawbacks. Some players have expressed their frustration on the secret word of the day, highlighting that they are impossible to uncover. Others have sparked debate on whether some players are ruining the fun of the game by exploring intricate strategies to always guess the correct word. Recently, the New York Times acquired Wordle for a price in the low seven figures. Per the NYT, the game would “initially remain free to new and existing players” (Tracy). Hopefully, Wordle remains free for all to enjoy without having to pay a dime.
The Prep has certainly felt Wordle’s presence as a trendy, fun way to compete with friends or challenge our minds. It is satisfying yet frustrating, but that is the sheer aura of Wordle. Maybe we our overexaggerating just another online boom. However, the NYT’s acquisition of Wordle, along with the growing number of players, leads us to believe that Wordle is here to stay.