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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

An Ode to Wordle (from a Former Hater)

I take back what I said: This little game is perfect.

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Around the start of this year, I started seeing boxes with little green and yellow squares, kinda reminiscent of a Tetris screen, all over my Twitter feed. I gathered that people were posting their scores from some new word game I hadn’t yet played, and I found the whole thing extremely annoying. I tweeted (quite obnoxiously) at the time:

No one cares about your fucking Wordle score is what I really wanted to say, but a lot of my friends were doing it, and I didn’t want to be overtly rude.

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Then I played it.

Wordle, as it turns out, is a perfect game. It’s the great unifier. Everyone gets one puzzle a day, and the word is the same for everyone. But you’re not competing against each other—you’re just competing against the game and yourself, really, and everyone is kind of in it together, which is what compels people to share their scores on social media. There’s an unspoken agreement that, somehow, no one ever breaks, which is that you never spoil the answer for anyone else after getting it yourself. Wordle quite brilliantly devised a sharing system where you can see a person’s journey toward guessing the word and how many letters they got right or in the right place on each turn without any hints or spoilers. (For more on how the game actually works, if you’re new to it, read Jenna Amatulli.)

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There are so few things in life that are as simple and wholesome and enjoyable as this little puzzle. It’s easy enough that most people can do it, unlike, say, the NYT Crossword, but challenging enough that it remains interesting. It’s almost meditative—if I don’t have time to do the Wordle first thing in the morning, I usually realize at some point during the day that I still have a fresh Wordle to do, and that makes me unreasonably happy. For roughly ten minutes, I can forget all the stress in my life and the bad shit happening in the world and just try to guess the same word everyone else is trying to guess, too.

The real genius of the game is that you only get one puzzle a day—as creator Josh Wardle told the New York Times, “it doesn’t want anymore of your time” (bless you, sweet game)and there’s a little clock at the top of your score that counts down the hours until the next Wordle is coming, which always leaves you hungry for more.

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I still don’t post my Wordle scores on Twitter, mostly to punish myself for having been a complete dick about people who do that in January. But now I actually search the term on Twitter after doing the puzzle every day to see how everyone else did and what they’re saying about it. It somehow makes me love people I haven’t met and feel connected to them for a brief moment, which is exactly the opposite of what Twitter (and social media writ large) usually does.

So please accept this mea culpa for my assholery, Wordle fans. I’m a convert.