What’s up with Wordle?

A person plays pop cultures latest obsession, Wordle, on their phone.

Deposit Photos

A person plays pop culture’s latest obsession, Wordle, on their phone.

Few trends have managed to reach such a large range of people than the internet’s most recent viral sensation, Wordle. According to the New York Times over 300,000 people play the word game daily. At Clayton, of 50 survey respondents, 90% of students have heard of the game and over half play almost every day. 

Woldle is a very simple game. The goal is to guess a random five letter word in just six tries. When a letter is guessed that is in the word, but not in the right spot it will turn yellow, and letters which are guessed in the correct spot turn green. Everyday, the game resets with a brand new word which is shared among all users.

Wordle was never intended to be played by thousands of people. It was invented by Josh Wardle, as a present for his puzzle-loving wife. It was mostly a side project, until he realized the vast number of people interested in playing the game. Once Wardle discovered people sharing their scores with one another using green, yellow, and gray square emojis, he encoded a share feature which would automatically type out guesses to be shared via text or on social media without revealing the word.

There’s a unique simplicity in the game which is what has drawn many users to play. There are no notifications or pop up ads. No likes or followers. You can’t play for hours like Candy Crush, or binge in a single sitting like your favorite Netflix show. Wordle is simply empty boxes and a keyboard. It’s easily accessible to anyone online and is a refreshing game which strays from the overwhelming nature of the internet. 

Worlde also provides a unique connection between family and friends. Sophomore Sidra Major, who plays the game almost every day, said, “I love sharing my scores with my family and talking about it on our Wordle group chat.” 

Wordle’s popularity has led to numerous other word guessing games. These include the Taylordle where users must guess words relating to the singer Taylor Swift, Nerdle where users guess math equations rather than words, and even Leterle, where the user must guess just a single letter.

Students are playing Wordle and it’s variety of spin offs for many reasons. Some enjoy the game because it’s difficult, but rewarding. As freshman Aiden Haupt puts it, Wordle is “wonderfully frustrating.” 

Others play the game for a sense of connection with their peers. Audrey Fiorello said she plays Wordle almost every day “Because all my friends are doing it.” 

Lavanya Mani, a freshman Wordle player, likes the communal aspect of the game. “My friends play it a lot and we often talk about the day’s word” she said. “It’s a fun little challenge that doesn’t take up too much energy.” 

Senior Camilla Meyers believes Wordle has gained so much popularity because it’s similar to other word games like crossword puzzles, but also includes a competitive component. “Word games have always been popular, and now that they’re accessible online it’s very easy to enjoy” she said. “[Wordle] gives a sense of accomplishment once you guess the word, and it’s a way for people to compete with one another.” 

The competitive nature of Wordle is what motivates sophomore AnMei Deck. She said she plays almost every day because “It’s fun and I like to win.”

At the end of January, to some players’ dismay, Wardle sold his creation to the New York Times for 1 million dollars. Many feel disappointed that capitalism has managed to take hold of what emerged as an innocent and free game. Jynx Falk, a freshman Wordle player said, “I’m not happy about the NYT acquisition. I’m glad for the creator of course, but am anticipating an incoming paywall, as is common with the NYT.”

Sophomore Sam McDonah too was disappointed by the acquisition. “The NYT needs to stop buying everything. It’s slowly becoming the Disney of newspapers” they said. 

While Wordle may have peaked in its popularity, it serves as a hopeful reminder of the good that’s left in the world. While often divided on so many fronts, people of all ages can find a sense of connection with a simple guessing game once a day.