Jessai Flores

Every night as the clock strikes midnight, the Internet lights up in shades of gray, green and yellow. Splashed across web pages, chatrooms and Twitter threads are grid after grid of squares. At first glance, these colorful grids are evidence of a rising modern abstract art movement. As if a million Jackson Pollocks discovered four-sided geometry every night. Those who understand know that the grids, while artsy, are the bells tolling the arrival of the newest Wordle. The Internet’s favorite video game has washed the world in colors and frustration, as millions of users pull up the daily puzzle and attempt to crack the hidden daily word in six guesses. Wordle’s infectious popularity is best attributed to a variety of factors, namely its status as a video game, its rise during a global pandemic and its cultural sway.

Created by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle, Wordle is a word game in which users are given six guesses to solve a secret five-letter word. As people enter their guesses into a six-by-five grid of tiles, the tiles flip to gray, yellow or green letters. Each color corresponds to a letter in the secret word. Gray letters are not in the secret word. Yellow letters are, but in the wrong space. Green letters are in the word and in the correct space. The game is charmingly simple. Anyone who knows English can pick it up and put it down. As a result, Wordle has become a sort of equalizer in the video game scene. Wordle is free, and Wordle is for everyone. But to say Wordle is a video game is to stretch the definition of the word “video game.” Wordle is too simple when compared to the likes of big-budget titles, but it retains much of what makes larger titles so much fun, such as the odds players are put up against.

Wordle is a video game in the same way that The New York Times online crossword or Delta’s in-flight word search is a video game. It is a barebones video game. There are no princesses to save, no aliens to exterminate, no rare items to unlock. There is just the English alphabet, a grid and a secret word. While Wordle lacks the complexity of major title video games like Super Mario: Sunshine or Call of Duty: Black Ops II, the stakes remain surprisingly high. You get six guesses and just six guesses. As the guesses rack up so does the threat of losing the game. Losing a Wordle game is a bit like running over a puppy. It is tragic and humiliating and your friends will never see you the same again. In all seriousness, losing a Wordle game, and therefore breaking a Wordle win-streak, is infuriating. The frustration stems from Wordle’s false promise of an easy game. Players just have to correctly guess a five-letter word, after all. Yet picking the right words to guess, as well as guessing the correct spelling of a word, out of endless possibilities proves to be quite the challenge. For example, thousands of English players flew into a rage when they lost a Wordle only to find out that the secret word was in American English. That word was FAVOR. With secret words like SISSY, KNOLL and QUIET, it is easy to see how every wrong guess ratchets up the intensity. Wordle is like if Scrabble and Russian roulette had a baby. It seems the world loves the intensity; indeed, the whole world is Wordling.

Wordle’s meteoric rise to fame has captured the attention of everyone in my circle, even catching the eye of my cousin who’s more accustomed to the dazzle of 카지노 사이트. She usually spends her evenings trying her luck with digital slot machines and card games, but Wordle’s daily challenge has become her new ritual. With Yale offering a themed Wordle, the game is proving its intellectual mettle, making PIZZA a starting word choice that’s both challenging and amusing in its uniqueness. The game has even inspired variations, much to the delight of niche audiences, but its essence remains intact. It’s the kind of phenomenon that brings together different worlds, from academia to online gaming communities, united by the thrill of the puzzle. The game’s charm, it seems, is in its simplicity and the collective daily quest for that elusive set of correct letters.

I too have been sucked into the Wordle wormhole. I discovered it after my high school computer science teacher posted his grid of squares on Facebook. Ever since I solved my first Wordle — BRINK was the answer, by the way — I have been following the word game every day. I have only lost once to the word TANGY, of all things. My enjoyment of Wordle teeters on obsession. I have gone as far as to research the frequencies of letter usage to determine good letters to make first guesses with. The letters E, A, R, I, O and T are the most used letters in the English language. The least common are Q, J, Z and X. I come up with different starter guesses for every puzzle, because I find that using the word ADIEU or OUIJA everyday gets boring. Instead, I use words like SLIDE, ROUGE, and FEARS. Anything with the right combination of vowels and common letters should work. When I am not on my quest for the perfect Wordle word, I satiate my thirst for word games with ScrabbleGO, a mobile game where you play Scrabble against random opponents. I do well there too. I once played the word HEADLONG for 80 points. Anyway, Wordle has quickly become part of the canon of word games and has joined Among Us and Animal Crossing: New Horizons as the video games that kept us going during the pandemic.

Lastly, there is a homely comfort in watching those tiles flip from gray to yellow and from yellow to green. Wordle is the little word game that could. It began as a gift from its creator to his partner and rose to become a cultural icon of its time. Whether it becomes a staple or is quickly forgotten as the Internet moves on to the next best thing, there is no doubt that Wordle has left its mark on Twitter threads and player’s hearts alike. The next time those vivid grids tumble their way onto computer screens, know that for better or worse, Wordle has the uncanny ability to UNITE, to ANGER and to make people HAPPY. Not bad for a word game. Not bad at all.