Wordle: Story behind the word game has taken social media by storm & how you can play it for free

The no-frills website that hosts Wordle was developed by Wardle as a side project with no ads, no pop-up windows — just the game, updated every 24 hours.

Wordle has become a phenomenon with over 300,000 people playing on January 2.
Wordle has become a phenomenon with over 300,000 people playing on January 2.

Wordle: When Brooklyn-based software engineer Josh Wardle developed a guessing game so that he and his partner could pass the time during the pandemic, little did he know that it would take the world by storm within months.

The couple became obsessed with the game after months of playing, and soon introduced it to their family’s WhatsApp group. When the relatives also took a liking to it, Wardle figured he had something big and released it for the rest of the world to enjoy in October.

Named Wordle, as a play on its creator’s last name, the game has become a phenomenon with over 300,000 people playing on January 2, The New York Times reported. The number of players on November 1 was 90.

The game can be played once a day and invites players to guess a five-letter word, similar to Mastermind, a guess-the-colour game. After guessing a five-letter word, the game tells the player if any of the letters are in the secret word and if they are in the correct place. A player gets six tries.

The no-frills website that hosts the game was also developed by Wardle as a side project. It has no ads, no pop-up windows asking for money — just the game on a black background, updated every 24 hours.

Wardle told The New York Times that he thought people appreciated that the game was not trying to do anything with user data — but a fun game.

He said he and Shah really got into The New York Times Spelling Bee and the daily crossword and wanted to develop a game that she would enjoy.

The breakthrough, however, was limiting it to one game a day, enforcing a sense of scarcity.

Wordle’s original design ignored a lot of growth-hacking features expected of modern games. While other games send notifications, Wordle doesn’t bother users.

Until mid-December, Wordle also lacked the ability to share results. Wardle noticed players sharing their results by typing out a grid of yellow, black, and green emojis; so he developed an automated system for players to brag about their success without giving away spoilers.

That decision increased the game’s popularity and it developed an intense following on social media and group chats alike. Thousands of people post their scores on Twitter, revealing how many tries it took them to solve the puzzle.

For Shah, however, that’s how Wardle showed his love for her.

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