Wordle is a simple online game. It’s easy to learn and it takes just minutes to play.
And you only play one game of Wordle a day.
People say it is that simplicity which has made Wordle so popular.
The object of Wordle is to guess a five-letter word. You get six tries to guess the word.
You start by typing in one five-letter word. Wordle tells you which letters you’ve guessed right.
Then, you guess again. And again—up to six times—until you get the word right.
Each time, Wordle tells you if the letters you’ve chosen are one of three things: 1) not in the word; 2) are in the word but in a different spot than you picked; or 3) are in the spot you’ve picked for them.
It does this by using green for right-letter in the right spot, yellow for right-letter wrong-spot, and grey for if the letter isn’t in the target word.
Wordle 232 4/6
In this case, the first word chosen had one letter correct, but in the wrong spot. The second guess had one letter in the correct spot and another letter correct but in the wrong spot. The word was guessed in four tries. Image: Wordle.
Wordle was created by Josh Wardle to play with his partner. When he saw how popular the game was with his family and friends, he decided to put it online and make it free so everyone could play it. And it went viral.
Wordle is not unique. It is similar to a popular game called Mastermind, a board game that uses coloured pegs. It’s also similar to Jotto, which was developed in 1955 and Lingo, a TV game show in the 1980s.
However, this version—only one game, once a day, with shareable results that can be posted on social media—caught on late last year. In November 2021, about 90 people played Wordle. Just two months later, there were 300,000 players around the world.
Some people have made Wordle-type games for other languages, such as French and even Esperanto. In fact, Wikipedia lists 46 different-language versions of the game. There are also versions in which the target word changes or the word-length changes.
This month it was announced that the New York Times has purchased Wordle for more than a million dollars. The news organization has said the game will remain free to play, although it is speculated that the Times may put advertising on the Wordle site.
There are several features of Wordle that can be turned on in the Settings. One is “colour-blind mode” which uses orange, grey and blue—colours that people who are colour blind may be able to distinguish more easily.
Another feature is “Hard mode.” In hard mode, if you’ve guessed a letter you must use it in your next try. The third feature is “dark theme,” which changes the background from white to black.
You’ll find Wordle here: https://www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/
THINK & DISCUSS
- The article suggests that it is Wordle’s simplicity that has made it so popular. Find evidence in the article to support the idea that Wordle is uncomplicated.
2. Do you think the pandemic has helped Wordle to become popular? Why or why not?
3. What does it mean for something to “go viral”? Would you say Wordle went viral? Why or why not? (Use information from the article to support your answer.)
4. People who first started playing Wordle figured out a way to post their “scores” online, using emojis so they didn’t give away the solution. Josh Wordle added that feature, using coloured blocks. How do you think this affected the game’s popularity?
5. Some people are afraid Wordle will change now that the New York Times has purchased it. In what ways could the game change and how would those changes affect it, in your opinion? Or, if you think the Times won’t change the game, give your reasons for that opinion.
6. The article mentions Esperanto, which is a very interesting language. See what you can find out about Esperanto and what makes it unique.
7. People find they quickly start to come up with strategies to succeed at Wordle. For instance, every word in English needs a vowel. There are five vowels (a, e, i, o and u), plus y. So if your first word has a lot of vowels in it, you’ll be able to confirm or eliminate some letters. Think of some five-letter words that use the most vowels possible. What strategies would you use to succeed at Wordle?
LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION
Philadelphia Inquirer article with tips and tricks for winning at Wordle: https://www.inquirer.com/science/wordle-starting-word-answer-win-play-20220203.html
This Wikipedia page lists links for 46 types of Wordle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wordle
The Times of Israel article about Jewdle: https://www.timesofisrael.com/jewdle-launches-in-yet-another-offshoot-of-popular-wordle-game/
There is lots of background information on the development of Wordle on this Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wordle.
Below is the statement Josh Wardle posted on Twitter (@powerlanguish) to announce its sale to the New York Times.