The Wordle Revolution

Lizzy Crawford

Each year has its quirky trends and fads, and the one of 2022 is Wordle. This game is initially confusing, but after a few practices, it is completely addicting. Today we will dive into the roots of Wordle, how to play the game, and everything surrounding the craze. 


The Wordle journey began in Brooklyn back in 2021. Software engineer, Josh Wardle, created the game for his wife because of her love for games. The name came from a funny twist on his last name. The couple soon shared the game with family and friends via WhatsApp but by October, he opened it to the public. From there, the game grew exponentially as more and more people shared it with friends, coworkers, and even strangers. 


Once Wordle became a colossal hit at the beginning of 2022, it surely attracted the attention of many larger corporations. On January 31, many traditional “wordlers” were shocked when the New York Times had announced that it had purchased the game to be featured on the puzzle portion of the website. Many were skeptical that this move would force players to have to pay for the game but The Verge pointed out that, “Wordle will “initially remain free to new and existing players” once it moves over to the Times’ site, and Wardle says that he’s working with The New York Times to preserve players’ existing wins and streak data once the game heads to its new home.” As of April 2022, Wordle is still free to all users. 


Despite its popularity, Wordle can shy some people away because it seems complicated. However, after a quick preview of how the game works, players will find that it is very simple. The goal of the game is to guess the five-letter word within six tries. Following a color-coded format, players can type their first guess in and hit enter/submit. If a letter in their guess is not in the correct word it will appear as gray. If a letter in their guess is in the correct spot for the correct word, it will show up in green. And if a letter in the guess is in the correct word but not in the right spot, it will be yellow. Every player gets the same word every day. And there is only one word per day. With there being one word, there is also a lot of controversy over accidentally saying the word or hinting towards letters in it aloud. It is now a societal rule to not even mention the Wordle because you never know who has not gotten it yet. Oh, and don’t get any “Wordler” started on double letters or x’s. 


The fame of Wordle can partially be credited towards the competitive nature of the game. After completing the Wordle for the day (whether guessing correctly or failing after all six tries), players are shown a page of their “stats.” The game keeps track of each user’s data by displaying a bar graph with the number of attempts to success marked for each word (guess distribution). Additionally shown are the number of Wordles played, win percentage, player streak, and a countdown until the next Wordle is released. And to top it all off is the share button that has contributed to the game’s popularity as users all over the world will share this stats page with their friends and followers over social media.


There is also a huge debate over what is the best “starting word.” For Wordle beginners, a “starting word” is typically the go-to word that players use as their first guess. The debate revolves around having the most vowels, the most diversity in letters, and so on. Common starting words are “adieu”, “about”, and “canoe”. In fact, there have even been studies that look into what the best “starting word” is. For example, Techradar shared a finding by David Sidhu that one of the best words to begin with is “samey.” However, many users are adamant about sticking to their own “best starting word.”


Another debate around Wordle: languages. There has been a sort of “battle” between US and UK players of Wordle over chosen words. For example, the word “humor” was a selected word instead of “humour.” On the other side, American users were frustrated when the word of the day was “bloke” – a word rarely used in the states but commonly in Europe. Still, Wordle has free range to any and every five-letter word, which includes both American and British-associated words. 


This game does use lots of strategy, but it ultimately comes down to luck. It is amazing how a simple puzzle mady by a husband for his wife turned into a worldwide phenomenon. It is exciting to see what becomes of this game and how long its popularity will last. In the meantime, keep calm and Wordle on!