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Online Puzzle Wordle Achieves Overnight Success

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It’s the word-guessing sensation that’s sweeping the nation.

Last November, software engineer Josh Wardle created Wordle, a simple word puzzle game to play with his partner on the couch to pass the doldrums of pandemic isolation. It’s a simple concept: you get six chances to guess a five-letter word, and if you guess the correct letters, you’ll be notified as such. The puzzle changes every day, providing a pleasant sense of stimulation and regularity. Apparently, that pleasant sense is rather addicting, because after a humble launch just a few months ago, Wordle has become a household name seemingly overnight.

As of this past weekend, Wordle has reached a maximum concurrent userbase of approximately 2 million. It’s anyone’s guess as to why the game has taken off like it has, though some have theorized it’s a combination of its inherit simplicity and its easily shareable nature. When you finish a puzzle, you can copy/paste a text image that shows how long it took you to solve the puzzle, making the game highly social media-compatible. It’s also free to play, which is always a plus.

For Wardle, the sudden popularity has been a bit overwhelming. “It going viral doesn’t feel great to be honest,” he said in an interview with The Guardian. “I feel a sense of responsibility for the players. I feel I really owe it to them to keep things running and make sure everything’s working correctly.”

But even with the pressure on, Wardle says it’s all worth it when he hears about the sense of normalcy his creation is bringing people in troubled times. “I get emails from people who say things like ‘hey, we can’t see our parents due to Covid at the moment but we share our Wordle results each day’. During this weird situation it’s a way for people to connect in a low effort, low friction way.”