Wordle(external link) is a simple word game, played in the browser (see: browser games), that is the major fad on social media at time of writing (January 2022).

As this NYT article(external link) describes, Wordle was created by Josh Wardle, who was aiming to create a simple word game that’d entertain his partner. She had input too, going through the initial list of 12,000 words to filter out any that were too obscure for her to know (the final list has 2,500 words).

The game wasn’t designed to be monetised, so it has a nice, clean interface and no advertisements. The “copy to clipboard” functionality, which enables you to easily share how you did in a spoiler-free way, doesn’t even contain a link to the game (which is why it took me a couple of weeks to find it). It presents you with only one puzzle a day – and everyone who visits the website that day receives the same puzzle – and it seems that this kind of enforced scarcity has contributed to the game’s success. You can’t just binge on it till you get sick of it, but you get this little brief dose of fun and you have to come back on future days for more.

Wordle was eventually bought out by the New York Times at the end of January 2022. Josh Wardle reportedly got “an undisclosed sum in the low seven figures” for his work. The NYT pledged that the game would “initially” remain free but their track record suggests that this won’t remain the case indefinitely. They also changed the word list(external link) to remove “offensive” words, non-American spellings of words (like “fibre”) and some rare words (like “agora”), also desyncing their version of the game from “bootleg” copies like this one(external link) in the process.

Wordle has also been adapted to different languages. The adaptions I know of are: