Wordle: The internet’s new obsession

An inside look at the internet’s new obsession.

A+graphic+featuring+the+game+Wordle.

Emily Early.

A graphic featuring the game “Wordle.”

Opening up Twitter or any other social media site recently, you’re bound to find some of the latest posts with arrays of black, yellow and green squares. But don’t worry, Twitter hasn’t been hacked. Instead, a new game has come to dominate the internet: Wordle.

But what is this new game? Wordle is a puzzle challenge, updated daily, in which players have six tries to guess a five-letter word.

“I think it’s positive to play those types of games just to keep your mind fresh and sharp, and it’s fun,” librarian Lauren Reusch said.

A photo depicting the rules of “Wordle.”
(Image courtesy of the site Wordle.)

The game was created by Josh Wardle. Wardle has stated that the game was created and released for his partner, who loves word games, in October 2021, and just three months later, the game has over two million users.

But why has the game gained so much traction? I mean, it helped that television host Jimmy Fallon played it with his audience on his “Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.” But besides the internet hype, the game itself has many enticing elements that led to its explosion online. The game is simple and keeps you in suspense. Everyone plays for the same word—sparking discussion about today’s puzzle. It’s a conversation starter and it’s addicting— the perfect combination for a potentially viral game. Sophomore Ben Gingrich feels there’s another reason it’s so addicting.

“I feel like [there’s] a demand [to it]. The supply for it is pretty low because you only get to do it once a day, but every day you get to look forward to it,” said sophomore Ben Gingrich. “I feel like it’s more fun [that way].”

Wordle is also easy to share. As soon as you complete your puzzle for the day, your game statistics update and a big green “share” button shows up. No wonder it’s all over the internet. I, myself, have multiple text threads just of Wordle scores sent back and forth. The game itself is pretty smart too. Wordle is so small that its code is ultimately stored in HTML or directly in your browser. It doesn’t need to connect back to a server, meaning you can play even without a Wi-Fi connection. The code is accessible to everyone, and the word bank of 2,135 possible answers holds enough puzzles for seven years of gameplay.

A graphic of a text thread with Wordle scores sent back and forth. (Emily Early)

Wordle was bought by The New York Times for a number in the “low seven figures” in late January. Fans were not happy with the sale of the game due to the likelihood of the New York Times eventually monetizing Wordle. Wardle has stated that he advocates for the game to remain free without ads. It’s interesting to see him devoted to not making a profit from this. But I agree with him. The game is simple, and it should stay that way.

Spin-off games such as “Nerdle” and “Crosswordle” have appeared since the game’s release. In addition, many might find Wordle Archives good practice, which gives users access to old games. Finally, as Wordle grows, teachers find ways to integrate the game into their classrooms, especially language classes.

Let me tell you, from experiencing my friends play Wordle right next to me, watching someone find the answer is so fun. I often play the game just before English class with teacher Casey Holland. Holland was introduced to the game by Gingrich, one of his students. Holland always has the Wordle done before school, usually while his coffee brews, but he enjoys seeing his students guess the answer.

“[My favorite part of Wordle is] seeing students play it and watching them try to figure it out. That’s just cool to see them stretch their brains that way,” Holland said. “I like the game because it’s just one and done. I would recommend it to other people just to extend your vocabulary.”

It’s a word game, yet it’s become more than that over the past three months: it’s an internet sensation. While the future of this game is uncertain, what started as just a simple game for Wardle and his partner has turned into a part of so many people’s everyday lives.