The Lure of Wordle

I resisted the Wordle craze for a few weeks but eventually gave in. Watching my friends post their scores on Facebook every day made me think that (1) I was missing something good; and (2) I could probably ace this thing.

Wordle, score chart, letters, online game, vocabularyHah! Pride goeth before a fall.

Yes, indeed, I was missing something and I’m glad I jumped into the Wordle pool. But, no, it’s not that easy and I’m not acing it. As a writer, I think of words as my friends. It turns out those friends can be fickle.

Lest you think I’m doing badly, however, I usually crack the word in four tries, sometimes in five or six and, on a few occasions, in three. As you can see from my score card, four is my sweet spot.

Where Did Wordle Come From?

Software developer and former Reddit employee Josh Wardle created the web-based word game during the pandemic, as a way for he and his wife to pass the time. He released it in October of 2021.

Wordle spread quickly and became so popular that now more than three million people play it every day. This year the New York Times purchased it for an “undisclosed seven-figure amount.”

The Benefits of Wordle

Wordle gives me a quick break in the day, when I can abandon work, worries about the world, concerns that the economy is tanking, and outrage about Russia’s war on Ukraine. For a short time, I can focus on just those five boxes,

Playing Wordle is easy:

  1. Go the official, New York Times site at: Wordle – The New York Times (nytimes.com). You will see five rows of five white boxes
  2. Using the keyboard, fill in the first row with a five-letter word. You can erase by hitting the back arrow. When you are satisfied with your word, hit Enter.
  3. The row will refresh and show colors. Letters that appear in the correct square are green. Letters that are correct but in the wrong square show yellow. The letters that don’t appear in the word at all appear as gray or black.
  4. Look at what you have, rearrange the letters to form another word and try again.
  5. When you “win,” that is, get all the right letters in the right squares, you will see green across the row. “Share” will appear.

If you click on this, then go to Facebook and paste, your blocks will show so your friends can see how well you did and, you hope, be suitably impressed. Wordle also keeps track of your scores and shows you how many times you won in 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 tries.

Warning: Correct letters may appear more than once.

Sometimes the right word will just pop into your head. More often, however, you will stare at those blocks and feel like a blockhead. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Winning at Wordle

Words, Wordle, online game, Josh WardleOne strategy says to start with a vowel-rich word like adieu or media but I usually start with a good combination of frequently used letters to give me the best result. My favorite is steam. Then I take the information Wordle gives me—green, yellow and gray—and try again.

Now. I have a pretty good vocabulary, so I sometimes run out of blocks before I run out of words—you get six tries. Sometimes, I’m just too impatient to spend enough time finding the right word and go for five instead of working the puzzle. When all the vowels have been eliminated, the solution gets more elusive.

If you like words and puzzles, Wordle is fun. Besides, you can only do Wordle once a day, so it doesn’t pull you in for hours.

Triumphs and Disappointments

Up until now, I had a pretty good track record of ignoring online games as time-wasters I couldn’t afford. I never opened a farm, crushed a candy, or pacified an angry bird. I took the same approach to Wordle when it appeared, seeing just another distraction I didn’t need.

Then I tried it and I was hooked. Despite a fairly simple appearance—no flashy colors, animations, blinking lights, or music—Wordle reached out and grabbed me.

Wordle, words, online game, letters, spellingNow I look forward to my little Wordle break at some point during the day. Except on the days when I just can’t get the right letters in the right order. Like yesterday.

I got four rows in and then left to do other things, thinking the word would come to me at some point. It took until the end of the day to arrive.

Despite entering some excellent words, I blew it. Given that I knew the last three letters from Row 1, I should have had this one in three. But it took me five. Go figure.

Oh, well. I can always look forward to tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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