Have you played Wordle, the online word game that’s gone viral and was recently purchased by The New York Times for a cool seven figures? The game was released to the public by software engineer Josh Wardle in October (“Wordle” is a play on his last name). In just two months, the game went from 90 players a day to an average of 300,000. To play, you have six tries to guess a predetermined five-letter word. Each time you submit a word, colored tiles indicate if your guess contains any correct letters and if those letters are in the correct spot. Once you finish, you can click a button to share your results on social media (I told my husband the other day that if I drop dead tomorrow, under NO circumstances is he to reveal my Wordle score. To anyone.).
How do I love Wordle? Let me count the ways…
1. You can only play once a day. A new Wordle is released every 24 hours—no more, no less. Unlike when you promise yourself “just one episode,” and instead emerge five hours later, bleary eyed and full of self-hatred, Wordle pulls you in but promptly spits you out five to ten (guiltless) minutes later.
2. It’s a love story. Wardle created the game as a gift for his partner Palak Shah, who loves word games. How sweet is that?
3. No apps, no passwords, no ads. Wordle is played on an ad-free Web site. There’s no app to download, password to enter, pop-ups to block or fee to play. It’s just a black and white grid with colored tiles. The simplicity of it makes my heart sing.
4. Everyone gets the same word. I love how the game is exactly the same for me, my next-door neighbor and my mother-in-law in Florida.
5. You can adopt a strategy—or not. Some people start with the same word every day (my mother-in-law always starts with the vowel-heavy “adieu”); others switch it up. You do you.
Fun Fact: A randomized algorithm chooses the Wordle each day from a list of about 2,500 words. So even the game’s creator doesn’t know the day’s Wordle, meaning he can play alongside us.
PS Check out this Wordle deep dive from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast.
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