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by Ellen Blake
Just about all of my 50Plus friends play Wordle and they talk about it constantly. Not only that, but people post their scores excessively on social media, though presumably only when they do well. I sit quietly and listen politely to the chatter, but until recently, having never played, I admit I didn’t get it.
I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so I decided to learn about the game. Here’s what I learned about Wordle.
So, what is Wordle?
Wordle is a simple online word-guessing game where players try to guess a five-letter word randomly chosen by the game. Each player gets six chances to guess the word correctly. After each guess, the game provides feedback on which letters are correct and in the correct position (green), which are correct but in the wrong position (gold), and which letters are not part of the word at all (gray). It can be played alone or with friends and family. All in all, Wordle is fun, engaging and easy to understand and play. I can understand why it appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds.
What is the history of Wordle?
Wordle seemed to become an overnight sensation, but here’s the story. A software engineer and former Reddit employee, Josh Wardle, initially created the game in 2008 as a way to improve his own programming skills. Inspired by a similar game called Mastermind, where players try to guess a secret code, Wardle set out to create a simpler game. He wanted a game that was easier to understand and didn’t require any specialized knowledge.
The original version of the game was a personal project that he shared only with friends and family. However, the game became popular through word of mouth, and eventually he decided to release it online as Wordle in November 2020.
Wordle gained widespread popularity in early 2021 after appearing on social media platforms such as Twitter and TikTok. On January 21, 2023, the New York Times announced on they purchased Wordle from Wardle. Today, Wordle is a cultural phenomenon enjoyed by millions of people around the world. The NYT will continue to offer the game for free for now. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the game.
Can you play Wordle on mobile devices?
Good question. Yes, you can play Wordle on your iPhone, iPad, and other mobile devices. However, there are no iOS or Android apps for the real Wordle game. It’s true that Wordle apps are popping up all over, but these are copycats. They appeal to some people because they offer unlimited gameplay while the real Wordle only offers one game each day. So how can you play Wordle on mobile devices? Simply go to the Wordle webpage, now hosted on the New York Times website, where you can add the game to your home screen. Find directions HERE.
Why is everyone talking about Wordle?
So why has Wordle become a seemingly overnight obsession? According to an article on Insider, British psychologist Lee Chambers explains that Wordle, “stimulate[s] both the language- and logic- processing centers of our brains.” He goes on to say that, as with all games, playing Wordle causes a release of dopamine, the hormone known as the “feel-good” hormone. As a result, people understandably want to keep playing.
There are other reasons too. I spoke with a number of friends age 50Plus who play on a daily basis that shared the following reasons with me.
BENEFITS OF WORDLE FOR OLDER ADULTS
Easy to understand
With few rules, learning Wordle is guick and easy, which is one reason it appeals to so many different people in all walks of life.
People like to feel a sense of belonging. Whether it is to participate in the conversations at parties or as part of the growing online community, Wordle connects people, which was especially important during the lockdown, particularly for seniors.
Wordle scores can be easily shared on social media. In addition, to sharing scores, many people like to discuss their Wordle strategies online.
Wordle releases only one puzzle per day with it’s mystery word, so you can complete your one game quickly and get on with your day. Only the copycat versions of the game allow unlimited play, one of the many reasons to stick with the real deal.
Feeling of accomplishment
Solving a daily puzzle can give your self-esteem a big boost, good for anyone at any age!
Playing a game of Wordle can provide a daily respite from stress and worry.
Keeps your brain sharp
Playing word or number puzzle games can help with brain health! Many older adults say they play to keep their brains stimulated and sharp.
Free means easy access for all!
The bottom line
I don’t mind sharing that I played Wordle each morning for the last 2 weeks. It was fun. With only one mystery word released each day, playing was a quick and enjoyable way to start the day. I am not sure if I will continue, but I can definitely understand why so many people set aside a few minutes every day to play. The benefits of wordle for older adults are many, and the time involved pretty minimal. As far as obsessions go, Wordle seems harmless. So enjoy!
How often do you play Wordle? Please share in the comment section below.
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