(NEW YORK) – The first big viral trend of 2022 is here, and it’s a colorful word game called Wordle.
Players who visit Wordle’s website have six chances to guess a five-letter word, which has been randomly selected from a database. With each try, the game tells you how close your letters are to the “word of the day.” If the letters you pick are in the word but in the wrong order, Wordle highlights them in yellow. If the letters are in the word and placed correctly, they get highlighted in green. Gray-highlighted letters means they don’t appear in the word of the day.
“It’s a good, fun game,” says Gizmodo Executive Editor Andrew Couts. “It only takes a couple of minutes, and it’s something to talk about with your friends.”
Wordle was created by New York software engineer Josh Wardle this past fall, but Couts says the game really became popular in late December and early January, and now boasts more than three hundred thousand daily players.
“It seemed after the holidays, everybody seemed to be playing this game and sharing it on Twitter, sharing it all over social media,” says Couts, adding that Wordle’s distinct visual style is key to its success.
“It creates kind of a cool little pattern that the game makes it really easy to share on social media…so you can show people how well you did on the word of the day. And I think that’s one of the big things that has made this game take off.”
Wordle 209 6/6
Took me all morning….
— Rob Hawley (@robertlhawley) January 14, 2022
While the game’s rules are simple, Couts says there are a few strategies to maximize your chances of Wordle glory.
“Picking words with a bunch of vowels, and picking words with common consonants like S’s or T’s or K’s is a good way to kind of get the word of the day quickly.”
That simplicity cuts both ways – which could open up the game to people who are willing to increase their odds through shadier means.
“It’s also a very simple website and it’s very easy to cheat if you really wanted to,” says Couts. “You can look at the source code of the website, for example, and see the entire list of the words of the day. So you can know them in advance. But that kind of takes all the fun out of it.”
And after all, Couts says, now is just the right time for some innocent, online fun.
“It’s actually a nice thing on the internet for once, so that’s very welcome.”
Hear ABC News Radio’s Michelle Franzen report on the latest viral craze:
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