One half of the internet is playing it and the other half is meanwhile asking ‘What is Wordle!?’ The latest craze to take the internet by storm has tiny green, yellow and grey boxes flashing on people’s social media timelines. It is a word puzzle comprising five-letter words that aim at retrieving the ultimate word of the day. The game is direct enough and resembles a template other puzzles have used in the past.
What makes Wordle special though is how it came about.
Palak Shah loves word games. Her partner Josh Wardle, a Brooklyn-based engineer, knew that. Love urged him to put together his energies to create a simple game, especially for her, that playfully drew on his own surname. It was a game meant for just the two of them as a pandemic pastime.
Soon the game spilled into their family groups where it began to be heartily enjoyed. In that moment, Wardle decided to test the popularity of his creation to a larger audience and formally released it in October 2021, as per The New York Times.
Wordle has witnessed exponential growth in a matter of only a couple of months since its release. Social media, with its taste for all that are special curiosities, has taken a liking to the game. For many on Twitter, who claim to be staying awake till midnight only for the game to refresh its once-a-day rule and throw up a new puzzle, Wordle seems to have become a lowkey obsession.
The memes, of course, are plenty, based off the website game’s colour-coded interface. “Am I doing this right?” one Twitter user wrote, sharing a ‘score’ with a photo of a Rubik’s cube, while others contorted the game’s signature boxes into odd shapes.
One user was pleasantly surprised at the unassuming nature of Wordle that is hard to come by on internet games anymore. “I am truly shocked by Wordle. It’s not an app. It’s not malware. There are no hot singles who want to meet you. It’s literally just a webpage with a fun thing on it. I thought those had gone extinct years ago,” they tweeted.
That is precisely what Wardle was aiming for when he made his creation public, as revealed to The Times. “I think people kind of appreciate that there’s this thing online that’s just fun. It’s not trying to do anything shady with your data or your eyeballs.” Shah, meanwhile, said the game was a reflection of how Wardle showed his love.
Wardle is also the name behind other games that have assumed high status as part of ‘internet nostalgia lore.’ Previously with Reddit, he created a game called The Button in 2013, which required users to do nothing but just press a button that appeared on the screen. The catch was one could only do it once. The idle amusement had garnered massive popularity at the time.
In 2017, he also created Place, which was described as a social experiment, that allowed people to collaborate on art on a blank canvas that by the end of the project often looked like something straight out of a trippy fever dream.