Wordle is a deceptively simple online word game that has taken players the world over by storm.
Josh Wardle developed the game to play with his partner last fall. It quickly averaged 90 players a day in November, grew to 300,000 by January, and over the weekend soared to 2 million.
“I get emails from people who say things like, ‘Hey, we can’t see our parents due to COVID at the moment, but we share our Wordle results each day,’” Wardle told the Guardian. “During this weird situation, it’s a way for people to connect in a low effort, low friction way.”
Users post their results on social media and share how the game affects their family relationships.
last month, in an act of misguided kindness, I spent 2 days teaching my highly boomer parents how to do wordle
today my dad discloses has been keeping a tally of everyone’s scores daily & basically codified family rules for wordle.
Like it’s an extension of golf or something pic.twitter.com/XsbJx1K7bc
— DJ Hog (@EnzerEnzer) January 8, 2022
The game’s popularity even inspired a Twitter account, @WordleStats, that shares daily results and tracks game trends.
Psychologist Sam Sheridan reportedly waits until midnight when the next word drops to play.
“[It] probably sounds kind of mad,” Sheridan said.
The game’s design is simple, with no ads or memberships. The lack of monetization and its limitations to just six tries a day are factors Southampton University game design professor Adam Procter told the Guardian that contribute to the game’s popularity.
“The internet is in a really bad place at the moment, but [Wordle] is great because it’s not doing all those nasty things,” Procter said. “It’s what the web was like when we first had it — it was much more playful.”
Wordle consists of green, yellow, and gray squares. The goal is to correctly guess a five-letter word each day with only six chances. Site cookies keep track of players’ progress.
If a letter is guessed and placed in the correct square, it will turn green. A yellow box means the letter is correct but in the wrong square. A gray square means it is an incorrect letter. Wordle’s keyboard shifts letter choices based on players’ guesses.
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With the number of users rising so quickly and many players sharing daily results on social media, Wardle is now contemplating where to take the game next.
“I need to be really thoughtful,” Wardle said. “It’s not my full-time job, and I don’t want it to become a source of stress and anxiety in my life.”
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Wardle added that if he does make changes, he hopes they are changes he would have naturally made for himself and his partner.