Wordle: The word puzzle that took Twitter by storm

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By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Jas Orr

At the beginning of this year, Twitter users have seen their feed filled with green, yellow and gray squares. This phenomena that came seemingly out of nowhere is actually a game being played by nearly 2 million people. Wordle, a play on creator Josh Wardle’s name, is a puzzle game that challenges players to figure out a random five letter word in six attempts. 

The game itself is fairly straightforward. Guess any five letter word. If a letter is in solution and in the correct position, it turns green. If a letter is in the solution but in the wrong position, it turns yellow. If a letter is not in the solution, it grays out. To win, guess the target word in six attempts. 

There is only one Wordle puzzle per day, and users are encouraged to keep their streak of wins alive. Wardle cites this as part of the appeal, as the scarcity leaves players wanting more. Additionally, the puzzle is the same across the globe, creating community as players compare their results. 

Though the game came out in October, it did not start to gain traction until late December, after Wardle implemented an easy sharing feature, allowing users to share emoji grids to Twitter. These grids demonstrate how players performed, without revealing the answer. This aspect of sharing became crucial to the game’s success, acting as a mode of competition for those who play and an enticing mystery to the random scroller-by. 

“I saw one of my friends posting about [Wordle] on Twitter, and it intrigued me, so I looked it up and saw it looked fun,” said Wordle player Winnie Wood. “If I hadn’t seen that post I wouldn’t have even known about it.”

Wardle, a software engineer for Reddit, built the game as a side project to entertain his partner. The game features no ads, no pop-ups, just simple black squares and a keyboard waiting for a solution. 

“I think people kind of appreciate that there’s this thing online that’s just fun,” Wardle told the New York Times. “It’s not trying to do anything shady with your data or your eyeballs. It’s just a game that’s fun.”

The phenomenon has inspired hundreds of memes and spoofs, with Twitter user @editoremilye calling it “the sourdough starter of Omicron,” in a now viral tweet, in reference to the trend of creating sourdough starters during the original March 2020 COVID lockdown.  Additionally, the game was featured on Jimmy Fallon, where he played the game live. 

If you’re interested in playing the game yourself, you can find it here.


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