Millions of people around the world are enjoying the simple yet frustrating daily word puzzle game created by a software engineer as a way to pass time during the pandemic.
US-based software engineer Josh Wardle released Wordle for free on his website in October last year, but it has now spread far and wide, with grids of green, yellow and grey emoji littering social media timelines.
The free online word game presents players with a mystery five-letter word to figure out each day.
But it can only be guessed within six tries, with letters changing colour to green or yellow the closer you get to guessing each day’s ‘Wordle’.
Following its resounding success, the word-guessing game has been snapped up by The New York Times to build on the publication’s existing bank of spelling and puzzle games.
Wordle: Word game sold to The New York Times in ‘low seven figure’ deal – here’s…
But what is Wordle? And why has such a simple word puzzle game become so popular online?
Here’s everything you need to know about the overwhelmingly popular online word-guessing game and how to play it.
What is Wordle?
Wordle is an online word game which bears some resemblance to popular code-breaking, colour-coded board games like Mastermind, but is even more simple in its design.
Every new day brings a new, mystery five letter word to guess – which must be done through entering five letter words onto Wordle’s 30 tile grid.
The first attempt will see any tiles containing the correct letter change colour to either yellow, green or grey, prompting users to make further guesses with words containing more of the correct or partially letters to be found in the ‘wordle’ of the day.
According to a profile of the game’s success in The New York Times, Wordle was born out of both pandemic boredom for Wardle, a social engineer who has previously designed unique social experiments for online community discussion platform, Reddit.
Wardle told The New York Times that he also sought to create something that satisfied his partner’s appreciation for puzzle games, crosswords and spelling games such as The New York Times’ popular Spelling Bee.
Launched in October, the player count quickly rose from tens of daily players guessing each word of the day, to millions by the end of the first week of the new year.
On Monday January 31, The New York Times announced that it had purchased Wordle from Wardle in an ‘undisclosed price in the low seven figures’.
The move has worried many users, who now fear that the game would become paywalled or subject to advertising in future – with The Times saying that Wordle will continue to be free to play ‘at the time it moves to The New York Times’.
But it clarified that ‘no changes will be made to its gameplay.’
Wardle said: “If you’ve followed along with the story of Wordle, you’ll know that New York Times Games play a big part in its origins, and so this step feels very natural to me.
“I’ve long admired The Times’s approach to the quality of their games and the respect with which they treat their players.
“Their values are aligned with mine on these matters and I’m thrilled that they will be stewards of the game moving forward.”
How to play Wordle
And while the game is more frustrating and difficult than it may first seem, Wordle’s rules are fairly straightforward.
Guesses at the ‘Wordle’ of the day have to be five letters in length and only six attempts can be made in total.
Once you’ve entered your first five letter word, hit the enter button to submit.
You will then see each letter on its tile turn to either grey, yellow or green.
If a tile turns yellow, this means that its particular letter is included in the mystery word of the day and if it turns green, the letter is included in the final word and also in the right place.
Letters on tiles which are greyed out mean that these are not included in the wordle – leaving you to figure out what the wordle is based on which letters in your previous attempt were completely correct (green) or almost right (yellow).
But British players, along with those who opt for British rather than American spellings of certain words, should be mindful of the slight differences that can occur between US and British English spellings when making their attempts to guess each daily word on Wordle.
And once you’ve tried Wordle once for the day, you won’t get to have another go.
Unlike the majority of games we’re used to playing today, which can become incredibly addictive and limitless in the pursuit to winning or finishing, Wordle can only be played once per day – with users having to patiently wait until the following day to try and guess the new word of the day in fewer attempts.
Why is Wordle so popular?
A far cry from the mobile and video games of eerily realistic graphics, notifications and frenzied animations that populate our modern world, Wordle’s appeal seems to lie predominantly in its simplicity.
With millions of users now jumping on to Wardle’s site every day to guess each new ‘wordle’, many users have enjoyed the simple frustrations of a game that has just one, five-letter answer for everyone and can only be played once a day – rather than consumed all in one go.
“It’s something that encourages you to spend three minutes a day,” Wardle told The New York Times.
“Like, it doesn’t want any more of your time than that.”
But the buzz around the game also has much to do with its current hype on social media, with many users choosing to share their daily Wordle results on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as with friends.
Wordle’s simple ‘share’ button, displayed once you’ve succeeded or failed in guessing the word of the day, instantly copies results to clipboard to be copy and pasted into tweets, posts and texts as a series of grey, yellow and green squares.
What are the best Wordle words to try?
The biggest challenge when it comes to playing Wordle is often deciding which five letter word you are going to try first.
The seed word you choose can either set you on the course for victory or plunge you into a cycle of despair should it not contain any of the letters included in each day’s Wordle.
This is why experts such as Countdown’s Susie Dent suggest picking five letter words which contain lots of vowels.
Vowel-heavy words such as ‘house’, ‘ouija’, ‘ourie’, ‘adieu’ and ‘alien’ can help to narrow down the possibilities with your first Wordle attempt.
Here’s a list of other five letter words with lots of vowels to help: