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The latest game to go viral is a surprisingly simple, yet wildly difficult, word puzzler called ‘Wordle’

An image of the game “Wordle” from January 3, 2022. The game’s solution changes daily.

Josh Wardle

  • Colorful emoji blocks with cryptic messages have been appearing on social media.
  • The messages are from a viral puzzle game, named “Wordle,” which has exploded in popularity.
  • “Wordle” is simple to learn, but surprisingly difficult — the perfect combination.

Have you been seeing strange messages on social media? A bunch of colorful blocks, then a message with a fraction? 

If so, you’re following someone — or, more likely, several someones — who plays “Wordle.” The messages are how “Wordle” players share their daily successes (and failures) with the world.

You don’t need a PlayStation 5, or even a smartphone, to participate. To play “Wordle,” you only need access to a web browser with some form of text entry. 

From there, the game’s basic premise is explained: Every day there’s a new five-letter word to guess.

With each word you guess, the game tells you how many letters from your guess are in the solution. If they’re colored green, then they’re in the solution but in the wrong place. If they’re colored orange, they’re in the solution in the right place. And if the letters are all grey, then none of the letters are in the solution.

It’s a relatively simple puzzle concept with vast potential for depth. 

Immediately, the mechanics of the game become clear: It’s a process of elimination of the English alphabet, within the constraints of five-letter words and the placement of each letter.

Moreover, you’ve only got six chances to guess the correct five-letter word of the day. This is where those social media posts come into play once again: They visually express how a particular “Wordle” player solved that day’s puzzle.

Social media posts about "Wordle," a word puzzle game that became a viral hit in late 2021 and early 2022.

Twitter

The colorful blocks are a map of their guesses, and the fraction is a reference to how many tries it took for them to solve the game. The other number, currently in the hundreds, corresponds to which “Wordle” puzzle was solved (Monday’s was number 198). 

The game has been around since November, but began picking up steam through digital word of mouth in late 2021. 

“Wordle” was created by one guy, named Josh Wardle, who’s no stranger to creating viral internet work. He previously created a hit Reddit April Fools’ Day gag back in 2015 called “The Button.” 

But with “Wordle,” Wardle’s created something far more intriguing: A truly great puzzle game.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.


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