It’s 1,000 words, but Wordle has a word to keep

It is one word that unites the entire world. Every day, millions of people start their day by guessing that one word, tapping on their cellphones, be it in fast-paced Mumbai, serene Zurich or dreamers’ San Francisco.

And today is the 1,000th-word anniversary of Wordle, the word game by the New York Times that has hooked everyone — from Gen X to Gen Next.

It is a simple joy. Guess the day’s five-letter word at six chances. If you get a letter right and its position right, a green block tells you that. A yellow block indicates that you got the letter right but the position wrong. It can be played on a browser or the NYT Games app.

Come to think of it, who doesn’t love wordplay?

If Scrabble was children’s favourite, and we saw our grandparents peering over newspapers solving The Times crossword, Wordle has united generations, with stats being shared and words being discussed with friends and on family WhatsApp groups.

Then there are scores of people who post their daily accomplishments on social media sites like X. Some reveal how they played Wordle, the first thing in the morning, with groggy eyes and missed the day’s words.

If there is the elation of hitting the bull’s eye with the first guess, there is the heartbreak of not getting the day’s word. Failure! Ask any Wordler, the pain of a wounded ego stays for some time.

The 1,000-word anniversary is being celebrated by Wordlers and even the Empire State Building. Well, words are the building blocks of our society.

“Celebrating the 1000th Game of Wordle tonight,” the handle of the Empire State Building posted on X, tagging NYT Games and The New York Times.

HOW WORDLE CAME INTO THIS WORLD

Wordle came into our lives in October 2021 in a world that was still grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns.

Created by software engineer Josh Wardle, the number of Wordlers grew from 90 to 300,000 in just two months.

The New York Times (NYT), looking at ways to boost non-news engagement, paid Wordle a seven-figure sum to acquire it in January 2022.

Wordle’s player base after NYT’s acquisition grew to tens of millions.

Being shared with friends and family helped, so did the flaunting on social media platforms.

If Wordle is pure joy for some, it is a game of strategy for others. People have tricks and strategies to get the daily Wordle word.

THE STRATEGY FOR THE FIRST WORDLE WORD

A common strategy of Wordlers is to exhaust the vowels.

‘Get your vowels sorted and the rest of the letters will fall into their place’ is the motto of this group of Wordle users.

In an article in December 2023, The New York Times revealed what it learnt after analysing half a billion of Wordle games.

“For human Wordle players, the most popular opening word by some margin is ADIEU, with AUDIO, another four-vowel word, not far behind,” the NYT article said.

However, the NYT analysis showed that starting with ADIEU or AUDIO doesn’t really help.

HOW ARE WORDLE WORDS SELECTED?

People also tend to use opening words associated with events or their mood.

Words like MERRY, GIFTS, PEACE jumped as openers on Christmas Day, while HEART, LOVER and CUPID were popular first words on Valentine’s Day, according to the analysis by The New York Times, which runs Wordle.

The NYT tried a theme-based word, but that wasn’t well received by Wordle users. It tried FEAST for Thanksgiving.

“We got a resounding response from the audience that they did not like that at all,” Everdeen Mason, the editorial director for NYT Games, told CNN. “I think it just made it too easy.”

Since then, it is all about choosing words from a curated list created originally by Josh Wardle.

In November 2022, The New York Times hired Tracy Bennett as the Wordle Editor.

Tracy Bennet revealed to CNN how the word of the day is decided. She works on week-long batches, about a month in advance.

“Josh Wardle’s original word list forms the bulk of the database of words we’re accessing, though we’re not running them in the order he had originally arranged them,” Tracy Bennett told CNN. She said she has just removed a “handful of words that felt too obscure or vulgar, or that had derogatory secondary meanings”.

WHAT’S THE 1,000TH WORDLE WORD?

Another thing that needs to be taken care of by Wordlers, especially those from Commonwealth countries, is that the game uses North American spellings.

The confetti on Wordle are marking the 1,000-word anniversary, and so are people on social media platforms.

So popular is the game that an entire industry has sprung up offering Wordle hints and solutions. Several news and non-news portals offer clues to Wordlers who are stuck at the fifth attempt, looking at a ‘Doomsday scenario’.

“Happy Wordle 1,000 to those who observe!” posted a Wordler on X.

Though the popularity of Wordle has dipped over the past few months, it is still one game that is played across the world. And now, there are prizes too.

“We’re celebrating #Wordle1000 with New York Times Games!” the Museum of Modern Art or MoMA said on Friday.

moma

“Starting today, NYT Games is offering a series of prizes inspired by past Wordle solves. Solve today’s 1,000th Wordle to get something special from MoMA,” its post on X read.

For most Wordlers, it is, however, getting the word of the day right that is the biggest prize, day after day. And that is what keeps Wordle going.

In its turn, Wordle too, has a word to keep, every day.

Happy 1,000-word anniversary, Wordlers.

Published On:

Mar 15, 2024

Leave a Comment