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Wordle: the once-a-day word game taking quizzing by storm

Former Reddit software engineer created ‘low-frills’ game for his partner

Wordle

A simple online word game that had just 90 players in November is now attracting more than 300,000 users per day.

Wordle is a guessing game where players have six attempts to decipher a five-letter word. When they guess a correct letter in the correct spot in the word, the letter goes green. A correct letter in an incorrect spot turns orange, while an incorrect letter becomes grey. As The New York Times (NYT) said, it is similar to “the guess-the-color game Mastermind”.

The game can be played just once a day and participants are shown a countdown to the next Wordle, which refreshes at midnight, once their turn is complete. Players are able to share their results on social media via a coloured grid as opposed to the actual words, making it spoiler-free.

Wordle is the brainchild of Josh Wardle, a former Reddit software engineer based in Brooklyn, New York. The game was initially popular in his family’s WhatsApp group, but has grown massively over the last couple of months.

Wardle created the game for his partner, Palak Shah, after the pair started regularly attempting the New York Times Spelling Bee (a word game where participants see how many words they can make out of seven letters) and the daily crossword. The limit of one game per day was partially inspired by the Spelling Bee, he told the NYT. It “leaves people wanting more”, he told the paper.

There are around 2,500 Wordle words, which Wardle thinks should last for a few years. The selection was narrowed down by Shah, who sorted through 12,000 five-letter words, marking whether they were familiar to her or not. 

The NYT describes the game as “low-frills” due to its lack of ads, pop-ups and flashing banners. “It’s something that encourages you to spend three minutes a day,” said Wardle. “And that’s it. Like, it doesn’t want any more of your time than that.”

Wordle can be played at powerlanguage.co.uk

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