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Image / Culture

Wordle obsessive? You’ll need to read this


By Amanda Cassidy
06th Mar 2022
Wordle obsessive? You’ll need to read this

The jig is up, wordles. A new study has found that many of you are cheating when it comes to the popular word game.

For those who are still confused about how exactly the daily brain-tease works, you might have seen those tiny red, amber and green tiles shared on the group chat or posted on social media and wondered what it could be. Or watched your colleague frantically google search a number of 5-letter words? If that’s the case, chances are they’re obsessed with the game of the moment: Wordle.

So how do you play?

It’s a 5-minute daily word game in which a new word is released every day. Players have six attempts to guess what the word of the day is. During the guesses, tiles will change colour to help players get the word. A grey letter means it isn’t in today’s word, whilst a yellow letter signals it is in the word but in the wrong position. Then there’s the green letter which means it’s in the word and in the right place.

It’s become an obsession for some, who are so desperate to maintain their winning streak that a growing number have been looking online for answers five-letter word guessing game

A study carried out by Wordfinderx (a reference website for games like Scrabble) used Google Trends data to discover that Google searches for the answer to Wordle’s daily game have trippled in recent weeks.

According to data, searches for AROMA and SWILL in the middle of February reached a 100 out of 100 on Google searches popularity scale, comparing to SIEGE in January which reached 1 out of 100.

The New York Times purchased the game on Jan 31st but the game had gone viral in late 2021 jumping from 300,000 players in January to millions in February. Psychologists believe that the reason it is so pupular is because the daily quick bite-size fun pulls in players by giving them something to look forward to each day as well as a personal challenge they can also share online.

So are people really cheating or is it a matter of an uptick in players playing the game? According to the study, the number googling the answer implies that there are some who do need a little help when it comes to maintaining their winning streak. If someone is consistently doing well and telling their followers online how they are doing, it is easier to have a peak at some of the harder answers in order to keep that winning streak going.

History

Wordle was created by Josh Wardle – a Welshman and former Reddit employee. He was a software engineer who brought the game back during the pandemic to entertain family and friends.

“Last year, my partner and I got really into crosswords and word games and I wanted a game for us to play each morning as part of our routine,” he told BBC’s Today programme. “Since launching Wordle, I’ve been in awe of the response from everyone that has played,” he tweeted. “The game has gotten bigger than I ever imagined (which I suppose isn’t that much of a feat given I made the game for an audience of one”.

It’s believed Josh sold the rights to the game to The New York Times in a seven-figure deal earlier this year.

Wordle isn’t the first popular word puzzle in human history, of course. A little while back Words With Friends had a moment and Scrabble is obviously the granddaddy of the genre. So while Wordle is too new for scientists to have much to say about it specifically, psychologists have studied earlier word puzzles.

There’s a reason games like this became more popular during the pandemic too.  Speaking to INC. Psychologist Penny Paxman explains how people are high in what psychologists call “need for cognition.

Connection

“People like this have a strong drive to keep their brains occupied and will always respond well to a new brain teaser.” But Pexman also suggests that there’s something about our collective psychological moment that makes the game more broadly appealing now.

“With only one Wordle released per day, everyone is solving the same puzzle. The online game’s sharing options also allow us to share our results with others without giving the answer away,” she writes. “That means Wordle is also creating an opportunity for shared experience at a time when many people are feeling disconnected from others.”

So the message is clear; connect, don’t cheat. And don’t ever give away spoilers!