Even if you haven’t played it, you probably know what Wordle is at this point. The simple word game has gotten some high-profile attention from publications like the New York Times. But beyond that, the game itself is its own marketing campaign. Has your Twitter feed been inexplicably filled with colored boxes over the last few weeks? That’s Wordle.
Wordle is a browser-based puzzle game that’s easy to play and mercifully not time consuming. The goal is to guess a daily five-letter word with no hints or clues. When a player types a word, different colors will indicate if they’ve gotten some letters right. Green indicates a correct letter in the right spot, yellow shows that the letter is right but the placement is wrong, while gray indicates that the letter isn’t in the word. Players have six tries to get it right. The only prize for completing it is the option to copy and paste the results, hence the Twitter takeover.
A lot of players love Wordle, but as is the case with any popular social trend, it’s gained its fair share of naysayers as well. Chatting about the game with a friend recently, he told me that someone he knew was so annoyed about the trend that she began tweeting the answer every day — going as far as to pay money to promote some tweets.
“Things I hate in 2022…..liars, cheaters & your wordle twitter posts,” one cynical tweet reads.
Social backlash cycles are predictable, but it’s one I can sympathize with. After all, no one likes feeling left out. The abstract tweets don’t exactly explain what’s going on — not to mention that they present a potential nightmare for those who use screen readers. It’s easy to see the origin story for Wordle Scrooges.
For those who find themselves annoyed at the influx of boxes in their feed, here’s a tip: It’s much easier to join the party than it is to hiss at it.
The joy of Wordle is that it’s easy to pick up. As long as you know some five-letter words, you know how to play. It’s a free browser game, so there’s no price of admission, and the one puzzle a day limit means that you can’t get addicted to it even if you wanted to. Out of any game that’s become a social phenomenon, Wordle is the most user-friendly one out there.
Am on the Wordle train, but vow to only post my W's in the dead of night.
— Giovanni Colantonio (@MarioPrime) December 30, 2021
But it’s not even the game itself that makes it special. Wordle has become one of those social watercooler titles that’s able to connect strangers. It’s a phenomenon we’ve seen with games like Pokémon Go and Animal Crossing: New Horizons over the years. There’s a collective joy attached to it, which is why players seem so eager to share their resultson Twitter, despite it being a totally voluntary feature. When a Wordle player sees a result tweet in the wild, it’s like when a dog spots another dog.
It’s been difficult to really feel part of a social community over the past two years. Digital communication can feel impersonal and gaming has its limits. Even though Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a huge trend, it still required players to own a Nintendo Switch – no small task amid supply chain woes. Companies like Meta have tried to capitalize on our despair by thrusting us into a VR-powered metaverse, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the company wants our money more than our happiness.
There are no such strings attached with Wordle. It’s a simple pleasure that’ll only take a few minutes out of your day. Once you’re in the loop, all those yellow and green squares on Twitter will start to feel much less annoying. They’re signifiers that friends, loved ones, and total strangers are all sharing the exact same experience as you. It’s a virtual high-five between players who’ve found a harmless way to kill time.
If that doesn’t warm your heart, just update your muted words list and let everyone have their fun.
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