May 14, 2022

When Wordle was released in October of 2021, nobody knew how big of a phenomenon the simple word guessing game would become. Created and developed by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle, Wordle has quickly become a daily game that people across the world have picked up and absolutely loved. The game became so popular, in fact, that The New York Times Company bought it from Wardle in early 2022, and has published the game ever since. Wordle has even had multiple spinoff games created because of it, including Poeltl (Per-tl), an NBA player guessing game based on the name of NBA player Jakob Poeltl.

If you have somehow not played Wordle before, the rules are fairly simple. You get six guesses to try and figure out what the five-letter word of the day is, and if you get one of the letters of the actual word correct in your guess, the letter lights up either yellow or green. If it lights up yellow, it means you got one of the letters, but the placement of the letter in the word is wrong. If it lights up green, you got the letter and the placement correct. If a letter is not in the word of the day, it dims to gray after it is guessed. If you get the word correct, the word is displayed in all green. If you can’t get the word in six guesses, you have lost and the correct answer is displayed in gray. 

How did this game get so big? Why would a game this simple be so fascinating and lucrative to people? The answer, like the game, is actually pretty simple. 

People really like dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that humans have within themselves that makes them feel really good or happy. Who doesn’t like feeling really good and happy? Playing a game like Wordle can be relaxing and whenever that green letter lights up on the screen, dopamine sets in, and it feels so good to get that letter completely correct. Those dopamine levels only increase as you see more green until you finally get that huge hit of it once the word is finally complete. 

The only time that Wordle can be frustrating is when the word is not very common, such as yesterday’s word: oxide. Wordles that are even harder than that do occur sometimes, and if you can get the word right without looking it up, good for you. There are a lot of people who will cheat and ruin the spirit of the game by looking up words that have letters in certain places and will get it because of that. The best strategy to get some letters correct out of the gate without cheating, in my opinion, is to eliminate vowels. Words such as “cause” or “oriol” will get all vowels guessed immediately and it helps give a basic understanding of what the word is framed like.

Wordle has quickly become a game that many people love and may play for a long time coming. It may be very simple, but it is also very interesting and sometimes thrilling to figure out what that elusive five-letter word is. I would love to chat more, but unfortunately, I have to go do the Wordle. 

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