The Rise of Wordle

The Rise of Wordle

Brain games such as Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and now, the highly popular Wordle have dominated the world wide web since its rise to popularity. Game creator Josh Wardle and his girlfriend, Palak Shah, worked over the course of several months to develop a unique word game based on their appreciation for other word games like Scrabble. Unlike other internet games, Wordle limits users to only one session per day.

Wardle created Wordle in late 2021 with the intention of providing internet users a fun way to pass time. The game focuses on guessing a five letter word in less than six tries. Working together, Shah and Wardle narrowed down a bank of 158,000 five letter words to only a group of 12,000 words. Wordle’s mechanics are based on a television program and game played on paper in the years 1955 and 1987.

An inspiration for Wordle is the pen and paper game, Jotto. Like Wordle, one party attempts to guess the second party’s mystery word. With each wrong letter guessed, the second party marks a large sheet with red and with every correct letter the second party marks it green.

Another inspiration for the game is the television show, Lingo, which started in 1987. On the show, two teams of two individuals each went head to head to fill an entire sheet with five letter words using partial clues and letters. Similar to Wordle, if the team failed to guess the word in 5 tries, they lost. Because of the similar features in both games, fans of the British television show voiced their anger with Wordle, even going as far as to bash it on social media platforms like Twitter.

Despite the initial negative reaction to Wordle from the public, popularity for the game is continues to trend upward. Wordle’s number of players per month has increased exponentially since its release. After its creation in October 2021, Wordle amassed 90 monthly players in its first week jumping quickly to 2.1 million just a few days later. As of January 2022, Wordle remains prevalent being tweeted about 1.2 million times just in the month of January.

At the end of January 2022, Wordle’s founder, Wardle, announced that he had sold the word game to The New York Times, for a number in the “low seven figures”. Fans of Wordle now play the game on a website sponsored by The New York Times as of Feb. 10, 2022.

In addition to using the same word bank as the original Wordle, The New York Times uses the same clue system. With yellow representing a letter being in the word but not in the correct place, green indicating the letter is both in the word and the correct space, and finally gray signaling the letter is not in the word of the day.

Wordle’s influence has spread quickly and swiftly since its inception, inspiring a multitude of other games like Globle, where the players attempt to guess a country on the globe in the fewest guesses possible. There is even Taylordle where devout Taylor Swift fans or “Swifties” can guess words associated with pop idol Taylor Swift. With the success of Wordle, it is guaranteed the game will have a lasting impact among internet users today.