Photo By: May Gauthier from Unsplash

One of the first big trends of 2022 is a simple word game. Who would have thought? 

Wordle is an online word puzzle that gives players six chances to guess a five letter word from a database of randomly selected words. With each attempt the game will show how close the guess is to the correct answer. A letter highlighted in grey means that the letter does not appear in the final word, a letter highlighted in yellow means that the letter does appear, but it’s not in the right place. A green letter is a letter that appears in the word, and is in the right spot. Players then use these clues to guess at the final word. 

It’s kind of like a sudoku, but a little bit simpler, and with letters instead of numbers. It’s a fun little brain teaser, but that’s not why it’s taken the internet by storm. 

The real beauty of Wordle is the way that it encourages connection between players. Once a player has either guessed the correct word or exhausted all six of their chances, the game prompts them to share their results, which end up looking something like this:

Wordle 210 3/6

⬛⬛🟨🟨⬛

🟩🟩🟩⬛⬛

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

If you’re out of the loop, you might have noticed people posting these seemingly strange and cryptic emojis on Twitter as people share their results to compare with everyone else’s. 

Wordle releases one puzzle every day, and everyone gets the same one. The opportunity to share results encourages friendly competition as everyone tries to guess the final word in as few attempts as possible. 

You might see your friends bragging about guessing the word on their second try, cursing a particular day’s puzzle for being especially difficult, or cursing themselves for not having fewer attempts on a seemingly obvious one. People swap strategies, debate the merits of guessing a word with a lot of vowels on the first attempt, give each other tips for what to do if you get stumped on the fifth guess, and argue about whether or not it’s cheating to open up an Incognito Mode tab to give yourself six extra guesses after you’ve exhausted the first six. 

It’s incredibly low stakes, friendly competition, and although I was skeptical at first, it’s grown on me a lot. Not because the puzzle is particularly innovative or groundbreaking, but because everybody else seems to be doing it. After all, that’s how these kinds of internet trends work, right? The thing itself might not be all that special, but the feeling of being involved in something, the understanding of what seemingly everyone is talking about, is what motivates people to take part. 

I’m a person who can get a bit cynical about internet trends. They’re cyclical in nature, with folks picking something up only to drop it a few weeks later when something else catches on. Wordle is no different. At the end of the day, it is just another trend, likely to be forgotten in a few months’ time as most people move on and only die hard word puzzle enthusiasts keep posting those weird little emoji squares. 

Still though, it’s made me realise that there’s something kind of neat about getting in on a harmless trend. It’s nice to know what all of the fuss is about, turn off the cynical part of your brain and just enjoy a simple word puzzle with everyone else. If you haven’t yet, let yourself have this simple pleasure, you’ll be glad you did.