A word-game obsessive finds a new outlet with Wordle

click to enlarge Come on baby, tell me what's the word. Ah, Wordle!
Come on baby, tell me what's the word. Ah, Wordle!

Listen, when people ask what your hobbies are, you're supposed to retort with something that makes you look cool and interesting, like rock climbing or rollerblading — not "I play word games for fun."

Though it made me look like a bit of a loser, as a kid there was nothing I found more enjoyable than trying to create anagrams with Scrabble tiles for hours on end. This has followed me into adulthood, where I've lately found myself waking up every morning only looking forward to one thing: Wordle.

When I started seeing chatter on Twitter about a new word-based game, I had to find the source. Wordle quickly took over my feed. All I've seen for the past weeks are little green-and-yellow squares arranged in grid formation and memes about the game. Perhaps you can relate? Of course I joined in on the fun. When I tweeted my first grid of the day, I was suddenly bombarded with texts from friends asking "What is Wordle?"

Every day is different when it comes to Wordle. The goal is to guess what five-letter word the game is "thinking" of by typing in an initial guess and going from there. The browser-based game reveals which letters are in the day's word by turning them yellow, and if you also guess the right placement of a letter, it'll be green. If the letter's grey, try again, it's not in the word. Players get six guesses until they're told "better luck tomorrow!" The trick, and reason for all those cryptic, letterless solution grids on Twitter, is that everyone playing is tasked with guessing the same daily word.

Wordle recalls my first inklings of a love of word games that must have started with "hangman." Obsession is an understatement when it comes to hangman — I lived and breathed this word-guessing game. I forced just about anyone in my vicinity to start a game with me from the ages of 7 to about 12. My grandmother took the brunt of it. On road trips, I'd bust out a yellow legal pad, and we'd spend the entire car ride thinking of the most ridiculous words for each other to figure out. My go-to was always "zephyr." That threw her for a loop.

Once I was a bit older, having acquired an iPod Touch, the device became absolutely riddled with word-game apps, from Words With Friends to buggy crossword puzzles. I'd play them instead of completing my algebra homework, often staying up past my bedtime playing Words With Friends with schoolmates who lived only a couple of blocks away. We'd reconvene at our lockers the next day to discuss who won and to set up new games. I also still played Scrabble with my family, much to their disdain. Often, board game night ended with me arguing that the "word" I'd played was, in fact, a word. (It never was.)

I've since played almost every iteration of unscramble-these-letters-to-make-words games that I can find. And sure, they're fun, but after a while I start seeing the same combinations of letters over and over. I know off the top of my head that you can make nine five-letter words out of the word analogy and too many three-letter words to count. Wordle, so far, remains appealing.

The internet is a fickle place where no two users can seem to agree on anything. Maybe Wordle is a step in the right direction, though, helping people arrive at the same conclusion. ♦

Wordle with the rest of the world: powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle

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