When Josh Wardle released his new word game Wordle in October, he had no idea how big the game would become. Over four months, Wardle’s site grew from under 100 users to almost half a million – largely thanks to the power of social media.
The game is simple: players have six tries to guess the daily five-letter word.
With each attempt , letters light up green, yellow, or gray – meaning that the letter is in the right place, in the word but elsewhere, or not in the word at all, respectively.
Wardle told New York Times that he made the game for his partner, Palak Shah, who loves word games and searched for something new to play during the pandemic.
“The game has gotten bigger than I ever imagined,” Wardle wrote on his Twitter account on Jan.31, 2022. “Which I suppose isn’t that much of a feat considering I made the game for an audience of [one].”
Many fans post their Wordle grids to social media, sharing their paths to solutions with friends without giving away the answer.
This social aspect of Wordle is perhaps its main draw; everyone playing the game completes the same daily Wordle, allowing them to discuss the game. In this way, Wordle takes from classic newspaper word puzzles like crosswords.
Even some celebrities joined in, posting their results to social media.
“Dear Wordle, please remember we’re still dealing with a pandemic. Try to be gentle,” comedian Trevor Noah joked on Twitter before sharing a screenshot of his grid.
After Tweeting the results of a few of his own Wordle games, Jimmy Fallon of “The Tonight Show” played Wordle on his show. His focus on the game is one reason for its quick rise to fame.
After Wordle’s boom in popularity, New York Times purchased Wordle in late January from its creator, who said he was glad about the change.
“I’d be lying if I said [running Wordle] hasn’t been a little overwhelming,” Wardle said in his announcement on Twitter.