Created by Josh Wardle


The Skinny: You probably already played it today.

By this point, Wordle is a game that needs no introduction. But I am still coming across friends and relations puzzled by the towers of green and yellow blocks on their feeds. So I will make a brief introduction. Wordle began in 2019 as a sort of gift by Josh Wardle for his partner. Wardle, the designer of The Button and Place for Reddit, is known for his parasocial games. But Wordle is almost paradoxically enticing in its simplicity. There are no loot boxes to grind for. Nothing to subscribe to, no gatcha mechanic. Just a new five-letter word every day, and six guesses. The game didn’t even allow sharing until the feature was implemented towards the end of last year.
 But perhaps it is its simplicity that draws attention in 2022. It’s an echo of a simpler electronic age when the idea of meeting people in faraway places through a screen seemed like magic. In its way, Wordle is punk rock. It doesn’t need to be downloaded from an app store (although certainly, clones have popped up on all of them in the past few weeks.) It doesn’t have microtransactions and ads for the game don’t play 24/7 on YouTube. It’s just a quick little word game you can play every day and share your results.
 Wordle is a shared experience, and I think that’s key to its success. Having only one word a day, and knowing that everybody else posting their score had the same word, creates a feeling of connection, communication, and competition. That word took you six tries? You had that many correct letters on the first guess? The content is sharable and gets people talking. I like to look at people’s posted patterns and try and guess what words they use. Other users place a great value in getting the word in as few guesses as possible. Wordle is as much a game of deduction as wordplay. 
 With the New York Times’ Announcement that they have purchased Wordle in a seven-figure deal, the future of this little-game-that-could is uncertain. For now, the game is still hosted at the same site and is still free to play. But only time will tell if the paper’s acquisition will mark an end to the fad or elevate Wordle to the same level of cultural cachet as the crossword.