‘Wordle’ takes Twitter by storm, winning new players every day

In Nov there were just around 90 people playing Wordle on Twitter. In January first week, the number shot up to 300,000! Rahul Gandhi on Thursday used a Wordle ( see image) to make a point

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's tweet
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's tweet

Garima Sadhwani

It’s free. There are no ads and you do not need to create an account to play. You have six attempts to fill in the blanks of a five-letter (real) word, and as in Scrabble, only real words are allowed.

If a letter you guess is in the word and in the right spot, that square turns green. If a letter you guess is in the word but not in the right spot, its square turns yellow. Letters that do not appear in the word turn grey.

Josh Wardle, the creator of the daily game, Wordle, told New York Times that he initially developed the game for his partner, Palak Shah who loved playing word games. He then made the ‘pandemic pastime’ public in October, 2021 and since then, there’s been no looking back.

Playback singer Chinmayi Sripaada thinks that Wordle has come as the perfect distraction, just as people were drowning in anxiety due to the third wave of the pandemic. She says, “I saw it on my Twitter feed, googled it and it took me just one try to figure it out.”

Ramakrishna Desiraju, or Ramki, the founder of Cartwheel Creative Consultancy, too came across it on Twitter barely two weeks ago, and claims to be an addict now. What roped Ramki in was the fact that there are millions of five-letter words, but you get only six attempts to guess. “How can so many words be reduced to a few tries. The mathematics of it, and the literary kick makes it very exciting,” he gushes. Filmmaker Nikhil Mahajan smiles. “As a writer, it is good to see people bond over words,” says he.

For Mahajan, Wordle provides a quick escape from the day’s mundane routine. He started playing the game when he saw his peers discuss it on Twitter. “I got into it out of curiosity and I was hooked!” What both Ramki and Mahajan like about the game is that it is quick and fun.

Ramki confides that he has been addicted to one word game or the other. First it was the Spelling Bee in the NYT, then crossword puzzles, then Jumble, and even Mastermind. And just as his subscription to the NYT expired and he felt a vacuum, Wordle came along. For Mahajan, it is the perfect balance of challenge and satisfaction. He adds, “I like playing word games. It keeps the mind active and in sync with language.”

Some were disappointed at being allowed to play just one Wordle challenge a day. That was until Katherine Peterson, an engineer at GitHub, took to Twitter to share that she created a new version of the game where you can play it as many times in a day as you want.

But even when you could play it only once a day, why was it becoming so popular? Ramki has an answer. “I think for one, it looks tough but is actually easy. And it gives you a sense of accomplishment. People get really excited when they guess the correct word.”

At a time when people are sitting at home, bored, probably anxious, guessing the correct word at Wordle makes them feel good about themselves. Mahajan agrees, and thinks that we can use more small and happy moments like the one Wordle is providing us. More power to that, we say!

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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