The Story Behind the Addictive New Five-Letter Spelling Game You’re Seeing All Over Social Media

CBS Sunday Morning

If you haven’t already played it, you’ve probably seen your friends post about it on social media. The posts include a series of boxes. Some are green. Some are yellow. Some are gray. Your friends seem addicted to it, but why? What’s the hype all about? What is this new word game?

It’s called Wordle, and it’s actually a very simple yet just the right about of challenging word game. Every day there is a new 5-letter word that you have to guess, and you only get six guesses. When you guess a word, Wordle will show you which letters are in the word you are trying to guess by highlighting them yellow. If you have letters that are not only in the word but are also in the right place, those letters are highlighted green.

That’s it. That’s all. After you guess the word correctly or run out of guesses, you’re done until tomorrow. Wordle does not try to keep your attention all day like other apps or games. It’s also free and doesn’t collect your data.

Josh Wardle created Wordle (which is a play on his last name) during the pandemic. It was a pet project of his. His partner, Palak Shah, likes word games, so he wanted to create one for her, and he did. 

Wordle has grown in popularity at a very rapid pace. Over 300,000 people have signed up to play the word game in just three months, but Wardle never intended for the game to go viral. Wardle thinks that the ability to share your results on social media has helped the game grow in popularity.

Wardle is a software engineer for Reddit. He doesn’t need to earn an income from Wordle, and he doesn’t plan to charge for it.

Wardle told the BBC, “I am a bit suspicious of mobile apps that demand your attention and send you push notifications to get more of your attention. I like the idea of doing the opposite of that – what about a game that deliberately doesn’t want much of your attention? Wordle is very simple and you can play it in three minutes, and that is all you get. There are also no ads and I am not doing anything with your data, and that is also quite deliberate.”

Watch the video below to see how this spelling game works and to hear more about what makes it so special and so addictive.

If you want to play Wordle, you can do so here. It’s only available on a website. It’s not an app you can download on your mobile device. It’s simple. Yet, it is challenging. When you get the word right, there’s a great sense of satisfaction.

Do you play Wordle?