What’s the ‘Wordle’?

A good first guess for a Wordle.

Courtesy/Jason Burns

A good first guess for a Wordle.

Kathryn Williams, Editor-In-Chief

Many of you may have heard people talking about “the wordle” or sharing a strange collection of multicolored squares on social media. A fair amount of you have likely played it before. I may be late to the game, but I just bowed to peer pressure and played my first wordle this past week.

Wordle is an online game that is somewhat similar to a crossword puzzle. Each day there is a new five-letter word that players have six opportunities to guess. You start by typing any word to fit the five spaces in the first row of the grid. Once you hit enter, the squares containing the letters will change color. 

A green square means that the letter is part of today’s word and is in the correct spot. A yellow square means that the letter is part of today’s word but in the wrong spot. A gray square means that the letter is not included in today’s word. Conveniently, the game features a keyboard whose letters change to the corresponding color, so you know what letters you should use and which to ignore.

The puzzle resets every 24 hours, so you can play it once a day. The word of the day is randomly pulled from a word bank for each puzzle. The word is the same for each person that plays on that day. That’s part of the fun too when you’ve already solved the Wordle for the day and you watch as a friend tries to figure it out. It’s an unspoken rule that you can’t reveal the word or give hints to another player.

I first became aware of Wordle when I was spending time in the Campus Ministry office in the Student center. Everyone from monks to students was discussing the Wordle, trying to solve it, and urging me to play. I say that I began playing out of peer pressure, but not in a negative way. I witnessed how this game brought people together, fostering encouragement and laughter. Since everyone is trying to guess the same word each day, it’s an easy way to strike up a conversation.

These kinds of online trends become a unifying force for our community. Do you remember when HQ was a thing? We would all join a live trivia game at the same time each day in hopes to win money, which I never did, and to share the experience with one another. These types of things surface every so often and personally I always enjoy them for the unity they inspire. With all of the craziness going on in the world today, having a simple little puzzle to do provides us all with a brief distraction, a moment of joy, a sense of accomplishment, and belonging. 

Although Wordle seems to be newly trending, the game itself is not new. According to the article “Wordle is a Love Story” in the New York Times, creator Josh Wardle made the game for him and his partner’s mutual love of word games back in 2013. In 2020, Wardle and his partner, Palak Shah, revamped the game and put it online to kill time during the pandemic. The idea of community even when someone may be physically alone became especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic. Online trends like Wordle have a way of connecting people. Even if you aren’t able to be around other people in the physical world, there is a sense of belonging as you are part of a larger community of Wordle players.

The New York Times purchased Wordle from its creator, Josh Wardle. As of right now, the game is free to play on the Times’ website with no subscription necessary. However, there has been some speculation that this may change and users may have to pay to play. I could imagine the New York Times making the Wordle part of their subscription service, but if it was up to me it would remain free. Wordle has generated a tremendous amount of buzz and draws many people who may not ordinarily read the news to their website. Keeping Wordle free could be a way for the New York Times to increase its readership. 

If you have not yet played Wordle, consider jumping on the bandwagon and giving it a go! And once you’re done with it and waiting for the next puzzle to come out, you might as well take some time to solve the Crier crossword puzzle on this page!