Internet hit thanks to minimalism: Guess exactly one word every day with Wordle

A developer who has already set up two immensely successful projects for Reddit has once again created an internet hit with the small word game Wordle: According to the New York Times, the simple game is now played by hundreds of thousands every day. Originally created as a gift for his significant other, played only by the two of them, the success story began after Josh Wardle took the game online and added an easy way to publicize your success in a game-like, and somewhat enigmatic way. The game runs in the browser, both mobile and desktop.

Wordle is about guessing a five-letter word from the English language. You have six attempts, each of which must consist of an existing English word. After each wrong attempt it is shown which letters appear in the solution word – in different colors depending on whether they are in the right place – and which not. In addition, there is only one word to guess per day. Precisely this restriction to the essential is what Wardle calls decisive for the meanwhile worldwide success. Most recently, he fixed a bug that was making it difficult to play in distant time zones, primarily New Zealand and Australia.

Wardle developed a first prototype of the game back in 2013, he told the New York Times. But he didn’t inspire anyone. It was only in 2020 during the pandemic that he got back to the project and created the game. His partner, for whom he programmed the game, also has another part in the success: She has therefore selected from a list of all 12,000 five-letter English terms around 2500 that she knows. Wordle should get by with this for a few more years.

For Wardle, Wordle isn’t the first project to gain viral attention. During his tenure at Reddit, he developed both The Button and Place. The former consisted of a button that any Reddit user could press once. This sets a 60-second countdown. It was only after more than two months – and over a million clicks – that the button hadn’t been pressed long enough to reach zero for the first time. Place followed two years later and consisted of a drawing area made up of one million pixels: Here you could place a colored pixel anywhere and was then blocked for several minutes. After two days, the experiment with collaboratively painted pictures ended.


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