The Elegance of Wordle

IMG_1609Do you Wordle? If you’re not sure, let me explain. Wordle is an extremely popular web-based word game. Each day, players get six chances to figure out the secret word. There’s something about this game that’s nearly the definition of elegance ~  simple, smart, and tasteful.

In case you haven’t played Wordle, here is the objective. Each of the six guesses must be a valid five-letter word. After typing and submitting a word, the color of the letters’ squares change to help the player get closer to figuring out the word for the day.

The story of Wordle is sweet and simple. It was created and developed by a software engineer named Josh Wardle. (See what he did there?) He actually created the game for his girlfriend to play during the pandemic. He soon discovered his whole family loved it, so he released it free to the public in October, 2021. Two months later, more than 300,000 people were playing, and millions of people now play the game every day.

The design of Wordle is refreshingly clean and simple. There are no bells and whistles, no busy graphics, and no advertisements. I find its lack of visual and auditory clutter a nice way to ease myself into the world each morning. Playing the game couldn’t be easier, although it can be deceptively difficult. There’s only one new game a day, which prevents people from becoming too obsessive about it.

According to neuroscientist Michael Yassa, PhD, playing the game can be good for the brain. He said it activates dopamine, the transmitter linked with pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation. Wordle can also get your problem-solving skills going, he said.

“Anything that causes a high level of engagement, something that engages memory and problem-solving, is good for your brain and will strengthen those processes in your brain,” said professor of neuroscience Earl Miller, PhD. “Your brain is like a muscle, and the more you use it the better it gets at doing things.”

Playing the game can also improve positive social interaction. The daily Wordle offers something intelligent to talk about with other players that isn’t tainted with politics, innuendo, or other possible divisiveness. It’s kind of like the weather, but more interesting. According to Yassa, when we have positive interactions with others, there’s more release of dopamine, along with oxytocin, a hormone linked to empathy, trust, and relationship-building.

I’m not on social media, where Wordlers can brag about their game without giving away the secret word, but I’m not above taking a picture of a good game and texting it to my husband across the breakfast table. The game can promote healthy competition and good clean fun with daily bragging rights.

The New York Times purchased Wordle in 2022 for a price in the low seven figures, according to the publishing company. The Times has said the game will initially remain free. For now, anyone can go to http://www.nytimes/ to play for free. Do be careful, there are plenty of ruthless copycats out there.

I’m not usually one to join the latest fad, but Wordle is one viral trend I’m glad to have found. Starting my day with the elegance of Wordle makes me weepy, jumpy, sappy, happy! §

“I have no idea what Wordle is and at this point I’m too afraid to ask!” 
~ Viral Tweet 

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