If you’re active on any sort of social media, odds are you’ve noticed your friends starting to post bizarre collections of gray, yellow and green squares every day, accompanied by equally unfamiliar strings of numbers. But this isn’t some secret code – it’s Wordle, an online game that challenges players to guess a five-letter word in only six guesses and, arguably, the first major viral sensation of 2022.
The daily puzzle is essentially a word-based version of the board game Mastermind, with green blocks indicating correct guesses and yellow blocks indicating letters that are in the word, but are not currently in the right place. With one new puzzle released every 24 hours, Wordle is a quick, addictive way to fill a few minutes in the morning or during a work break. A handy “Share” button also lets you post your results to the social media of your choice, letting you compare your guess numbers to your friends every day.
Wordle was created by software engineer Josh Wardle in October 2021. He created it as a gift for his partner, recognizing their love of word games. The game took off online, quickly reaching a daily player base of several million. The game’s popularity was helped by its short playtime and the visual uniqueness of the shared results on social media. Psychologists have theorized that Wordle’s popularity comes from a desire to create a sense of community to combat the distance and separation caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
However, that feeling of connection may soon come to an end. On Jan. 31, 2022, it was reported that Wordle had been purchased by the New York Times for an amount described by a Times reporter as “in the low seven figures.” The game will be added to the New York Times’ current collection of daily puzzles, which as of now includes the classic crossword, Spelling Bee, and others. Although a spokesperson for the New York Times claims that the game will “initially” remain free, it is unfortunately likely that Wordle will wind up locked behind a payroll alongside the Times’ other daily puzzles.
Fan response to this news has been negative, with many software developers and game creators promising to create their own free version of Wordle in the near future. However, it remains to be seen which Wordle variant will claim the crown of “most popular word game” once Wordle itself becomes pay-to-play.
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What do you think of the New York Times acquiring Wordle? Let us know!