Five letters, six attempts, and one word to figure it out a day: the verbal formula is simple but for several weeks it has been circulating on social media. United State.
“It gets you addicted,” says Susan Drobin. “It only takes a few minutes a day, and it’s a very nice distraction,” adds the 65-year-old retiree who lives in Maryland on the US coast.
According to the New York Times, on November 1, 90 people were trying to find the word of the day. Two months later, on January 2, there were more than 300,000.
The principle is basic: you have to click on a five-letter word in a maximum of five attempts. Each guessed letter in the correct box appears in green, while the letter that was guessed in the correct box appears in yellow. In case of failure you have to wait for the next day.
Having started playing a few weeks ago, Drubin has joined thousands of players sharing their daily scores on social networks using the hashtag #Wordle and six lines of five colored rectangles indicating the number of attempts they have solved the puzzle.
Wordle’s peculiarity lies in part in the fact that it was designed by a computer engineer named Josh Wardle, not to be sold to the general public but as a simple means of entertainment. The New York-based Briton decided not to monetize the game.
“People appreciate having this thing on the Internet that’s just plain fun,” he told the New York Times. Wordle “doesn’t try to do anything weird with your personal data.”
No advertising appears on the site, but some are already trying to copy the principle, to earn money. The original game is only in the title powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle.
For Mikael Jacobson, research coordinator at MIT’s GameLab, Wordle is categorized as “to pass the time.” Games with simple mechanics, “when waiting for a friend or while waiting for the bus,” he says.
According to him, the game’s success is partly explained by how easy it is to share, on social networks or through word of mouth.
After solving the puzzle “You feel proud, you have this little code to share here. So you can brag a little, which we tend to do,” he explains.
Rachel Quert, a psychologist who specializes in video games, has the same meaning and invokes social comparison theory: Everyone wants to rate themselves in comparison to others.
The researcher also estimates that being “limited to one game a day gives a sense of psychological weirdness”. “This makes him want to come back and play day after day,” he asserts.
Another advantage of the game: easy accessibility provided that you speak English …
Despite the game’s popularity, it was only a matter of time before it was adapted to other languages. At the moment there are at least Spanish, French and Portuguese versions available.
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