Wordle: A New Way to Explore the English Language

By: Joseph Kilis

Now, if you have not heard of Worlde, the hit word-guessing puzzle game overcoming Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram feeds around the globe, I’m convinced that you live under a rock. Sorry if that was a little harsh, but I’m going to be seriously surprised if you say you’ve never heard of it, let alone have not seen those stacked green, yellow, and black squares. Go try it out for yourself, you might enjoy it. (Yes, I don’t mind if you stop reading this story, just come back once you’re done to realize how right I am.)

You see, I’m not one to fall through the rabbit hole of what’s trending or not, but this game (for some odd reason) has got me quite obsessed. I can’t go a day without playing it; but why? Why does almost every student and teacher need to play this game on the daily? I get that teachers probably think it’s cool their students are “into vocabulary words” all of a sudden, but why do we, as the human species (I know, very broad, but you get the gist) feel so drawn to play an online word game?

Competition. Competition, competition, competition. I am going to humble myself, and go on and say that I am an extremely competitive person. Sports aren’t up my alley, so I think I manage to use all that competitive energy within this game. In case you are not aware, Wordle functions kind of like Wheel of Fortune; except instead of guessing fun phrases its five-lettered words. Every twenty-four hours, you get only six chances to correctly guess one word by inputting in other words to find letters that are in said “word of the day.” (Sorry for saying the word “word” way too much, I’m starting to think that this Wordle story is getting a little wordy.) Anyway, when you get a correct letter in the correct spot, the square around it turns green. But, if you were to guess a letter that is in the incorrect spot in the word, it would turn yellow. Using the letters that you input, you need to find the correct word. (If this was confusing, just play it for yourself; it’s free!)

Anyway, back to competition. It’s always a great feeling to see that you correctly guessed a hard word in three tries when everyone else got it in four or more tries; and I think this is one of the reasons people are flocking back to Wordle day in and day out. This competitive aspect is what makes this game engaging for families and friends, as they all share their scores with others to brag about their score. Trust me, I have a whole group chat called “Wordle” on my phone, just for my family to go back and forth with their scores. The competitiveness of this game is very apparent, because if it wasn’t, I don’t think it would have been this popular.

On top of this competitive part of the game, another reason this game became such a hit (and so addicting) was because you could only play once a day. If there were unlimited words to guess, it would diminish the reason to post your score. You still could post your score, but it would mean a lot less since you are bound to have a good round every once in a while. The time limit makes it all the more competitive, and (in my opinion) that much more fun.

Simplicity and accessibility is also a very important thing to note when talking about Wordle’s success. It is probably one of the simplest games out there; just type in words and pray you do good. It is a simple premise, but also can be very challenging; I’ve had days that I have wanted to give up (but then I remembered that I needed to show off my score, so I continued). The challenging part of this is brought on by the player, since usually the word is painfully simple (with exceptions to the words “ulcer” and “cynic.” I HATED THOSE!) This game, in a way, shows the consequences of our own actions; if you put in a bad word, that’s on you.

Back to the point of accessibility, Literally just look up “wordle” in your browser. It literally is that simple. And also, to mention that this is free, also widens the population of people playing. For someone as broke as I am, it’s nice to be in on something that connects everyone without spending a dollar.

The collaborative aspect is also very special, as it brings many people together to talk about something harmless, such as a word that they guessed. In a world with such division, it is really nice to have a harmless puzzle game bring family and friends together. Heck, a woman was even saved from being held hostage because of Wordle. (Yes, it’s true. Look it up.) This game that unifies us all is really something special, and I think is one of the main reasons I enjoy the game so much. (Other than showing off, that’s fun too.)

On the surface, Wordle is just a simple daily puzzle game that challenges the mind. But it has grown to connect families and friends, build vocabularies–save lives, even–and provide some harmless competition for the competitive ones out there.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, go do that right now! Just don’t spoil the word for anyone. They won’t appreciate it.

(I feel the need to mention we aren’t sponsored or anything fancy like that. I just really enjoy this game.)