Publication date February 8, 2022

Wordle: Everything you need to know about the game that went viral

wordle game play

If you've seen rows and rows of green and yellow squares in your social media feeds, you've probably heard of Wordle. The free online word game is one of 2022's earliest viral sensations, and players can't get enough of it. Wordle has become a vocabulary-expanding habit for millions of players, with new words to guess every day. But how did it go viral in the first place, if it's so simple? 

The aim of Wordle, for those unfamiliar with the online game, is to guess a five-letter word in six tries. The tile turns green if you guess the correct letter in the correct location. It becomes yellow if it's the correct letter in the wrong position. A grey tile indicates that the letter isn't present in the word.

From its overwhelming appeal to the tips you need to enhance your guessing game, here's all you need to know about Wordle:

How and Why Did it Go Viral in the First Place?

This isn't the first viral word game, but it definitely is a breath of fresh air in our current situation, when communities are still fighting the pandemic and people are thirstier than ever for good news, simple comforts, and, well, free stuff. That’s how wordle made its entry.

While all of these amazing things are included in Wordle. It's completely free to play, but unlike so many other comparable games—including all the clones it's spawned in recent weeks — Wordle is not clogged with commercials.

Not only that, but neither the App Store nor Google Play has it. Choosing the old school method Wordle is only available to play on your browser—on phones, tablets, or your PC.

Thi Nguyen, a game scholar and philosophy professor at the University of Utah, posted a Twitter thread explaining why the game got viral.

“The cleverest bit about Wordle is its social media presence,” he writes. “The best thing about Wordle is the graphic design of the shareable Wordle chart. There's a huge amount of information - and drama - packed into that little graph.”

He describes each game of Wordle as an “arc of decisions, attempts, and failures.” 

“I don't know any other game that has nearly as graphically neat a synopsis, where you can just see the whole arc of another's attempt so quickly,” he writes. 

"The first experience a lot of people have of Wordle is: "wait, you just *guess*? “But you quickly figure out you can construct your guesses to search the space of letter-possibility, and you probably want to do that thinking about letter-frequency," he explained.

When Wordle discovered that players were manually putting out their scores using emojis, he added a score-sharing option in mid-December, according to the New York Times. The automated option allows users to share their scores on Twitter, along with a graphic representation of their guessing path, without revealing the word of the day. This contributed to the game's overall sense of community.

So How do You Play it?

The rules are pretty simple and the game is easy to play, provided you can figure out each word. You'll need some logic, a little luck, and a great vocabulary. When you first enter the Wordle website, you'll see six rows of five blocks each. To play, you will have to fill in the top row with a five-letter word. You have six chances to pick the proper word and win.

All correct letters that are in the incorrect spot will be highlighted in yellow. Incorrect letters will be highlighted in grey. Green letters are those that are both correct as well as in the right place.

You'll continue making informed guesses based on a process of elimination until you either get the word right or fail miserably. In any case, it's a simple and enjoyable brain teaser that you can do every day.

There's also a hard mode for those who desire a greater challenge: A cog can be found on the top right side of the in-browser interface. Click that, then use the slider to switch to hard mode, which means you have to stick to the suggestions you've found and can't just type random words to figure out new letters or spots.

How Can You Up Your Wordle Game?

Use letters that are commonly used. It may seem self-evident, but starting with the most common letters is a definite way to get off to a good start. According to one study, the letters e, t, a, o, I, n, s, and h have greater frequency rates, therefore phrases like "saint" and "hates" should be avoided.

Bigrams are important. A bigram is a word made up of two letters, with some pairs being more prevalent than others. If you're stuck with too many letters to pick from, the study discovered that the most frequent combinations are "th," "he," "in," "en," and "nt."

Change Your Starter Word Strategy. Wordle is used in a variety of ways by different people. Try something different if you're someone who constantly goes with the same first guess. There are countless options.

What is Great About Wordle?

One of the best aspects of Wordle is that you can only play it once each day. Wordle only contains one word per day, unlike most games, especially mobile apps, which try to entice you to play as much as possible. To play again, you must wait for the reset.

It's the polar opposite of everything we've learned about mobile gaming, which is actually pretty fantastic. There is no commercialization, no overt attempts to entice you to play indefinitely, no time-gating, and no MTX.

In reality, Josh Wardle built the game as a gift for his wife, so it has sentimental value in addition to not being only about the money. This way, you know you are a part of something bigger than the rest of the world is in on too.

Have you played the game yet? What is your streak like? Let us know in the comments below.

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