The Obsession With Wordle
By Amber Wilson and Briana Taylor
Have you played today’s Wordle yet? What about the Heardle? Queerdle? Nerdle? If you have, don’t spoil it for your friends. That’s not cool.
So what is Wordle? It’s an online word game where you’re given six tries to guess a five-letter word. Once you guess a word, you are given feedback in the form of colored tiles: green means the letter is in the correct spot, yellow means the letter is in the wrong spot, and gray means the letter is not in the word. Josh Wardle originally created this game for him and his wife to play, but it gained popularity in December of 2021 when Wardle added the feature to translate your score into emojis and share it on social media.
Obviously there are millions of words in the English language, so getting the Wordle in six guesses is a challenge. Having a strong starting word is imperative to guessing the word in four tries or less, and there are a couple of strategies people use to achieve this. There are the letter maximizers who start with a word like ARISE or AUDIO, or the people that guess whatever word is on the top of their mind. Both are effective and fun, and keep players returning to the website day after day.
The popularity of Wordle is, for the most part, due to its easy gameplay and the ability to share and compare scores with friends online. The 24 hour timespan in between each game gives players a chance to pause and wait in anticipation for the next Wordle to be released. This is known as the scarcity principle, wanting more of something if it’s rare. Wordle also gives players the nostalgia of games played as kids, like Hangman or Scrabble. While Wordle may be exercising specific brain muscles of visual memory and attention, it is not likely to make you smarter or ward off brain aging. However, it does give a daily dose of complex cognition and social interaction, encouraging healthy competition among people around the world.