The Enduring Appeal of Wordle
The challenge is simple. You need to find a five letter word in six guesses. Letters guessed correctly and in the correct order will be highlighted green. Letters guessed correctly but in the wrong place, will be highlighted in yellow. If you haven't been living under a rock for the last month, you're more than likely already familiar with Wordle, the hit puzzle game designed by software engineer, Josh Wardle.
Initially designed as a game for him and his partner to play over lockdown, Wardle's game has amassed millions of players from across the globe. It's free-to-play and can be completed over your browser (saving you from downloading any new apps). Its puzzles are scarce with only one challenge a day, leaving many users hungry for more. Scores can be compared and shared over social media, with bragging rights playing a big role in the success of the game. Did you get it correct in two goes or six? If you've done well (or poorly), it can be fun to share your results with your friends. Recently, I saw a friend share a result in which she had guessed "-ight" correctly on the third go, but incorrectly guess "right", "bright" and "might" immediately after. The answer was of course "light".
Wordle's success has been phenomenal. The game is simple, sharable and quick. You don't need to be a master of the English language in order to crack it. The game's simple, minimalistic design saw hundreds of clones being made, with many developers looking to cash-in for a quick buck. Wordle, in its current iteration, is free to use with no ads clogging up the screen. From the start, Wardle has said that he isn't interested in making money from the app. "I don't understand why something can't just be fun. I don't have to charge people money for this and ideally would like to keep it that way", Wardle said of the game. This was, of course, before the New York Times bought the game for a "low seven figures". Although they've said that they would keep the game free-to-play for the time being, it seems unlikely that it will stay that way forever. The NY Times games section isn't even free for subscribers of the paper, so one can't image Wordle being an exception.
Wordle is one of the nicer additions to the world of simple online games. It avoids the aggressive monetisation found in games like Candy Crush, while also steering clear of the pointlessness associated with apps like Angry Birds. There's something undeniably special about how Wordle has captured the zeitgeist of a post-lockdown society. There's a Google doodle dedicated to it. It's been featured on Saturday Night Live (performed by their Trump impersonator no less). There was even a bizarre case in Seattle where an 80 year-old woman was saved from an hostage scenario thanks to the game. Whether it remains free or not, Wordle is most certainly having a moment. We, for one, hope that moment lasts!
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