The Wordle Craze


Jakub Porzycki

Wordle has been the “it” game over the last month.

Kerry Breen, Contributing Writer

“Have you played today’s Wordle?” The new question that buzzes around school institutions, work places, and other public meeting grounds across the country. Brooklyn software engineer, Josh Wardle, created this word guessing game to share with his partner who loved a good word game. Fortunately, in October of 2021, the couple decided to share their new personal pastime with the rest of the world-le. 

Only available to play once a day, Wordle invites users to type in a five-letter word to ultimately guess the “secret word” with a six round guessing limit. After the word is entered, the game tells you which letters are in the right spot (highlighted green), which letters are in the word but not in the right spot (highlighted yellow), or not in the word at all (highlighted gray).

Sometimes there are sneaky tricks including a repeated letter, or a fairly unfamiliar word i.e. REBUS and TAPIR. Some believe starting out with a word packed with vowels is the best way to go i.e. IRATE or OUIJA, while others start out with the first five-letter word that comes to mind!

What is so admirable about the game is that there are no flashy advertisements or pop ups surrounding the game. All it encompasses is a six row grid, a keyboard below, and a neutral background. Furthermore, according to Josh Wardle himself, “I think people kind of appreciate that there’s this thing online that’s just fun,” he continues, “It’s not trying to do anything shady with your data or your eyeballs. It’s just a game that’s fun.” Wordle was not constructed with a whole team of engineers looking for an endgame profit, during the pandemic it was just him and his partner, Palak Shah, looking for the best ways to kill time. 

Inspired by the New York Times game Spelling Bee in which his wife deeply enjoys, Wardle decided to keep the game at a “once a day” limit. He believes this is the breakthrough which keeps fans wanting to come back for more.

However, because Wordle was designed for just Mr. Wardle and Ms. Shah, the original model omitted many of the growth-hacking elements that are now practically required in games. Other games send reminders to your phone in the hopes that you will return throughout the day, but Wordle isn’t looking for a long-term engagement.

Until mid-December, Wordle did not have the ability to instantly share its players results, which  Mr. Wardle soon discovered that users would creatively share their own results by inputting a grid of green, yellow, and black emojis. In response, he created an automatic approach for players to flaunt their achievements without revealing any spoilers for the secret word.

Mrs. Shah shared that she now wakes up every morning to start by playing the Spelling Bee game as a warmup to then play Wordle in hopes that she guesses the word in as little tries as possible. Although Wordle is no longer a hidden gem between her and her husband, she appreciates that the original game was just meant for her, and she is happy to share it with the rest of the world.

Just recently in January, Mr. Wardle and the New York Times announced that the game has been bought by their company to be played on their webpage. The purchase, which was announced by The New York Times on Monday, underlines the growing importance of games like crossword puzzles and the Spelling Bee, in the company’s goal of reaching 10 million digital subscriptions by 2025. 

Since implementing a paywall in 2011, The New York Times’ business strategy has focused on enticing readers and users to purchase subscriptions, despite the fact that the vast bulk of Times content is delivered digitally. Advertising is at the heart of the traditional newspaper economic model.

Since the original game was inspired by some of The Times own content, Mr. Wardle shares that “New York Times Games play a big part in its origins, and so this step feels very natural to me.”

On a smaller scale, Wordle has become quite popular throughout the Hingham High School community. Junior Lauren Brockwell remarks, “I really hope Wordle doesn’t change too much format wise and that players can still access it for free without having a NYTimes subscription,” she continues, “the new Share feature is such a game changer because I love comparing results in my friend group chats!”

Furthermore, the game is especially admirable throughout workspaces including the Mass General Clinical Research Wing, where Study-Coordinator, Courtney Breen shares “I love playing Wordle as soon as I get into the office or sometimes I’ll play on the train ride into Boston. I love sharing my score with my co-workers  and my sisters to see who gets the best results for that day.” 

Click here to play your first game!