The world of Wordle in 600 words

Caroline Hendrix, Senior Writer

Wordle has taken hold of both the early mornings and late nights of many with its five-letter combinations, giving these times of our days new meaning. A purpose is to stay up until midnight when the new word appears. A conversation topic on the difficulty of a limited six guesses that takes our minds on a treacherous journey for the golden word of the day. A reason to brag for those of us who have been waiting for a game like this to make its way into the public eye, a way for us to put on our retired Boggle and Scrabble hats that have been scrunched up and neglected into the shadows of our closets for years. Those glory days lasted only for a little while, that is until The New York Times saw an opportunity and took it. 

Wordle was made public by creator Josh Wardle in October of last year and it really started to gain popularity only a month later. The game that started off as a playful, private challenge for Wardle and his partner was sold in January of 2022 to The New York Times for a mysterious set of seven figures. Wordle players know the endless possibilities that letters, like numbers, can make, but anybody could tell you that seven figures is a lot, no matter the numbers that are used or their combination. This buy-out also created a host of frustrations for Wordle players who claim that the game has changed since The New York Times took it over, and not for the better. Many have claimed that the words have recently become more challenging than they once were. Others complain that they are receiving different words from their friends whose browsers have not refreshed to the new version. 

But do I think that Wordle has changed drastically enough to say the game is ruined? No. Every popular game or app has its initial peak followed by its sharp troughs out of our minds. There will come a time when I don’t wake up in the morning and go directly to the Wordle site to maintain my streak, but that is normal and expected. Think about Flappy Bird or Angry Birds. Games pop in and then quickly out of the public eye, no matter who owns those games. And for those who are frustrated and put off by the fact that a giant like The New York Times took over the game, this was bound to happen. A game with this much of a hold on mankind, with this much attention, was not going to stay in the hands of its creator forever. The New York Times was smart to take advantage of a game like Wordle that is as similarly thought-provoking and intellectually challenging as other popular games connected to newspapers and publications, like Sudoku or crossword puzzles. 

Wordle is still free and it is still fun. And when it gets old, I won’t blame The New York Times for that. But, if it does become a paid game, that is when I’ll buy a ticket and step right on the complaining train to join everyone else who has had a bone to pick with Wordle changing. The New York Times has made no comments on its long-term plan for the game and whether it will require a subscription-like many of the newspaper’s others. Part of what makes Wordle so enjoyable is the fact that everyone can play and everyone can join in to talk about the day’s word. If its accessibility becomes limited in this way, then it might be time to take off my Wordle hat and put it in the depths of my closet with the others until a new word game has a breakthrough.

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