February 17, 2024

The Good Wordle

by Hudson Cooper

There are many puzzles that are comprised of words and letters. Crossword puzzles, Jumbles, word search, and Boggle to name a few. However, the one that has become part of my morning ritual is Wordle. I remember first seeing postings   on Facebook of some completed results that looked akin to a Tetris-like screen.

Every day more and more of my Facebook friends were posting their daily Wordle results. I did some research and found out that the game was offered daily in the New York Times. Since I already subscribed to that newspaper, I found the link to the Wordle puzzle. Being a novice, I used trial and error in an attempt to learn how to play the game. After opening the game, I saw that the puzzle consisted of 6 blank lines comprised of 5 boxes each.

After numerous failures to try to figure out what one did to win the game, I just typed in the word “ABOUT” a 5-letter word. When I hit enter, I saw that the first 3 letters turned green, but the remaining boxes were blank. So, I continued by typing in “ABORT.” I entered my guess only to get the same result. The “ABO” was green followed by two blank squares. I almost aborted the game in frustration, but I decided to try again. Typing in the word “ABOVE” yielded a better result. Now, the letters A, B, O and E were green. Remembering that there’s no place like home, I typed in “ABODE” and depressed enter. Success! All the letters were correct…mission accomplished!

Unlike many internet games, Wordle was not initially created to be a source of revenue for the inventor. It was created in 2021 by Josh Wardle. Many people wonder why he chose the name Wordle instead of Wardle. As the story goes, he did not create the game for glory or cash. His partner, Palak Shah, was a big fan of word games. Josh, being an engineer and artist, began creating the game for her enjoyment. The timing was perfect. His efforts required a lot of time. Due to the covid crisis Josh, like so many of us, worked from home in isolation. To paraphrase the Rolling Stones, “Time was on his side.” It was one of his side projects during the pandemic. History might someday note that the pandemic led to two cultural developments…Wordle and Zoom.

Wardle’s initial intent was to create a word game for Palak and then share it with other friends. He just wanted people to have fun. As he once told the New York Times, “I think people kind of appreciate that there’s this thing online that’s just fun.”

Wardle found a way to make Wordle a once a day offering to prevent players from spending obsessive hours online like they did for Candy Crush or Angry Birds. When the New York Times acquired Wardle’s online game, part of the deal was that it would appear only once a day. 

When first introduced on the first day less than 100 people tried the online newcomer. A month later there were 300,000 players. The estimate now is that over 10 million go daily to the New York Times website to play.

The website also has a built-in way to help publicize Wordle. Once a player has found the hidden 5 letter word, they can share their success with friends in a unique way. I have 3 friends who play the game every morning. We share our results by sending a text that shows at the level we solved the puzzle. However, the actual word of the day is not revealed. It exists only as 5 green boxes! No spoilers!

The only issue I have with the game is its name. I understand that Wordle is a takeoff of Wardle. However, since the object is to solve a 5-letter puzzle, I wonder why the New York Times did not convince Josh to change the name to Wordl.

In any event, I bid you a fond adieu. I am fond of entering “adieu” as my first Wordle guess. I recommend you do the same. Right away you will know if any of the 4 vowels are used!

This article first appeared as one of Hudson Cooper's weekly "Random Thoughts" columns in the Sullivan County Democrat newspaper.

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