The Explosion of Wordle and its Lasting Power

Benjamin Shewan

In the last five years, the world has seen an abundance of different games take over the public eye. Whether it was Fortnite or Fall Guys, the biggest game has always been one where the main point of it was being better than the person next to you. The newest game, Wordle, does exactly that.

Wordle is a game where you have 6 tries to guess a 5 letter word that changes daily. When you guess a word, the colors of the tiles change. When a tile turns green, it means that you have guessed that letter correctly and it’s in the right place. When the tile turns yellow, it means that you have guessed that letter correctly but it’s in the wrong place. And when the letter is gray, it means that that letter is not in the word. 

On January 25th, the word for the day was “Sugar”.

People have already found strategies to be faster than everyone else. For example, some people always have the same first word that gives them the best chance to reveal the most letters. “Irate” is one of the most common first words people use since it contains two of the top three used consonants in the English language with “R” and “T” and the three most common vowels with “I”, “A”, and “E”. 

Another strategy people use is the two word strategy. This is where your first two guesses are two different words with entirely different letters, thus maximizing your chances of getting letters correct. 

Outside of simply just wanting to be faster than your peers, people take to social media to post their Wordle results. Using the gray, yellow, and green emoji blocks, people can post how they did on social media without spoiling the word for people who have yet to do the day’s word. 

However, some people like bringing a killjoy attitude. A bot named “Wordlinator” was set up on Twitter which gave away the answer. It was such a problem that Twitter had to ban the account. Even teachers are getting in on the movement as physics teacher Henry Tsay often posts his Wordle results on his Instagram and ELA teacher Christopher Brune begins each class with his students filling out the Wordle. 

“I started doing Wordle at the beginning of my first two classes because I saw that it was this thing that took off and became widely popular, and it felt like a good way to get students thinking and processing out ideas early in the morning,” Brune states, “We do it as a whole class, so it’s collaborative in nature, and there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing those green squares light up.”

But where did this game come from? The creator, Josh Wardle, graduated from the University of Oregon in 2011 and worked with Reddit. Two of his projects “The Button” and “Place” garnered national attention from the media for its innovativeness and drawing people into the platform. He officially launched Wordle in November of 2021 and it exploded onto the scene in a month. 

We’ve seen this from games before, though. An incredibly quick explosion onto center stage before falling back to Earth as quickly as it rose. However, Wordle seems different. It’s a game that everyone from all ages can play. Teachers can use it to activate their student’s brains before class. Kids can do it on their own and compete against each other. And people who love the New York Times daily crossword and spelling bee have another brain game that they can take part in. 

Wordle was a word on the New York Times mini crossword puzzle on Friday, January 21st.

Now that’s not saying it can’t fade into irrelevancy like thousands of other games have. However, the connection that Wordle is providing to people makes it feel like it will be something we’ll be hearing about for a while.