What’s happening to our beloved Wordle? | Mind games
Iit started as a token of love, then went viraland now it makes people angry. If you’ve noticed that “token”, “viral” and “angry” are all five-letter words, then chances are you’re a fan of Wordle, the online word puzzle that has become a Internet infatuation.
For those who have just returned from a crossing of the Sahel, Wordle is a game in which you have to guess, or guess, a five-letter word. Every day there is a new word. You can have six attempts, and each correct letter selected is assigned a yellow square. If it’s also in the right place, it’s a green square. All other letters get a gray square.
Even if you don’t play the game, it’s hard to avoid its cultural imprint, as contestants have taken to posting their results on social media – ubiquitous grids of gray, yellow and green squares, indicating the score of a player.
Brooklyn-based Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle – the puzzle is a game on his name – developed the game to entertain his partner during lockdown. Since posting it online in October, it has attracted millions of users. Last month, Wardle sold the puzzle to the New York Times for a sum said to be “in the low seven figures”.
But not all is joy and happiness in Wordle’s world. Although the NYTwhich primarily operates behind a paywall, said the game “will initially remain free-to-play”, it is expected that ads or promotions will be added soon.
For British players, there has also been the problem of cultural imperialism, otherwise known as American spelling. There has recently been a collective loss of sense of humor when ‘humor’ was the way to go, just as Britons had previously felt disadvantaged when ‘favor’ emerged.
Then it emerged that the newspaper was removing words from the approved dictionary – you must enter a recognized word on each line – that were deemed offensive, including “slave”, “lynch” and “wench”. This ruling has been seen by some as an enigmatic and puritanical form of virtue signalling.
After the NYT committed to eliminating “obscure” words, there were also fears expressed that this would make the game easier, followed soon after by anxious concern that it would be made more difficult.
Opinion swung to the latter scenario last week when the new owners didn’t hesitate (or ‘balked’, to use many purists’ favorite spelling) at the use of ‘caulking’, a five-letter word that has inspired many players to pronounce four letters. words. Some have taken to social media to denounce the name – it’s kind of a waterproof putty – as something only Bob the Builder would know.
According to clinical psychologist Dr. Patapia Tzotzoli, Wordle’s appeal is that he is consistent with self-determination theory.
“The theory suggests that we can become self-determined when our three innate psychological needs – autonomy, competence and connection – are satisfied,” she says. “Wordle enables autonomy because we choose to take a few minutes out of our day to play it. It offers skill because we can solve a puzzle and do better than others. And in terms of connection, it fosters a sense of belonging to a larger community. It hits all the right notes to activate our motivation to keep going back.
But the more popular it becomes, the more complaints it gets. The heated caulking conversation followed immediately after the dubbing crisis the night before. One of the appeals of Wordle is that everyone tackles the same word, at least in the English-speaking world – there are now versions in over 90 languages. Players know that when they struggle to get a ‘mound’ or a ‘seat’, it’s a specific struggle shared with millions of others. It’s the connection”.
But last week there was a sudden disconnect. Instead of one answer, there were two: aroma and agora, depending on whether or not you used the old or new URL. the NYT decided to drop agora because it was too mysterious (excuse me, caulk?) and replaced it with flavor, but some outdated browsers opted for the original choice instead.
Report outrage of the kind more normally associated with flagrant breaches of the moral code, like flashing the Queen or swearing at David Attenborough. The judgment making the rounds on Twitter was “a scandal”. And many players felt that the one-word-a-day contract had been irrevocably broken.
Things came to a head last week with a deceptively simple word: shake. This is exactly what many users have done with their heads. Completing the puzzle in four guesses seems to be Wordle’s normal score. To do it in three is a discharge of satisfaction, in two is sufficient pleasure and in one is pure luck. But not making it in the allotted six is a miserable study in self-recrimination.
This was the result for a large number of players when they were drawn to writing “shame”, “shape”, “shave”, “shadow”, “shale”, or “share”, but not “shake”. . Disillusioned – or perhaps simply defeated – players began announcing that they were leaving for Quordlea more challenging version of the game which consists of filling four grids simultaneously.
For now, however, the discontent is unlikely to shake the phenomenon that is Wordle. The question is whether, as we return to a more extroverted way of life, a game born under social restrictions will continue to thrive.
“It’s the nature of things to be impermanent,” says Tzotzoli, “and that’s true of people’s desires. We join a trend and then move on to something else that is new and more exciting.
It probably is, but right now it’s hard to imagine anything more exciting than five spinning squares. green – the most satisfying five-letter word of all.