What in the world is Wordle? Here’s how to play

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Personally, I’m drawn to the simplicity of the game as well as its compartmentalization. Unlike, say, a TV series or a video game, I can’t really be drawn into it for hours at a time. In fact, each Wordle is maybe 10 minutes, max. That’s it! I’ve never been one for crossword puzzles, but I think playing Wordle scratches a similar itch—it’s a nice way to wake up your brain before diving into work for the day, but you know it won’t derail you from your obligations, either. 

I also appreciate that the game does have accessibility options. Under settings, you can choose “colorblind mode” to see the game in high contrast colors. In the standard game, green means the letter is in the correct spot, gray means the letter isn’t in the word, and yellow means it is in the word but in the wrong spot. In the high contrast option, orange means the letter is in the right spot, blue means it’s in the word but the wrong spot, and gray again means it’s not in the word.

Every time you try a word, it must be five letters. You can reuse letters you know aren’t in the word (meaning, the gray tiles) if that’s part of your strategy, but that still counts as one of your guesses for the overall game. 

No matter how you scored yesterday (or overall), everyone is playing the same game. Meaning: Everyone will have the same right answer. That adds to the fun if you’re active on social media, as you’ll see a lot of people post their Wordle grids for the day—this in itself doesn’t reveal the answer, so it’s not a spoiler, but it’s curious to see what patterns come up from so many people trying different things. 

Now, could someone just post the answer and spoil it for everyone? Well, yes. But so far, people are sticking to social norms and contracts and not spoiling it, for the most part … but we’ll get back to that drama in a minute.

There’s the divide between people who stay up (or happen to be up) to play the game right when it releases a new round at midnight … and people like myself, who are dead asleep at midnight but play before work in the morning.

Even if you have a great vocabulary, the game is surprisingly difficult. Sure, you’re guessing a five-letter word—how hard can that be?—and yet, it’s quite a relatable mood to struggle once you’re on your remaining tries.

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Though, to be real, if you get the word correct on the first or second try, I’d say that comes down to more luck than anything else. 

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Though I’ll make an exception on this take when it comes to Malala…

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Now, Wordle is not without drama. As covered by The Verge, Twitter has actually suspended a bot account that responded to tweets about Wordle with spoilers for the next day’s game. The account, wordlinator, apparently was giving the right answers—and people were pretty livid. I am glad that our fun won’t be spoiled, but I have to admit I wish social giants acted so swiftly and certainly when it came to getting Russian misinformation campaigns off the internet, but I digress. 

There are, excitingly, multiple sites where you can play a Wordle-ish game. I know I said this is a one-shot-per-day game, and it is—sort of. You can, as I recently learned, play both the U.K. version of Wordle and the U.S. version (yes, the answers are different). You can play in French. You can play in Spanish. You can play Queerdle, a queer version, or Tirtl, a different queer version from a favorite publication of mine, Autostraddle. There’s even a version with numbers, called Primel. There’s Byrdle, that’s all about choral music. There’s even Sweardle. But if you want the one that most people seem to play, my take is that the U.K. version is by far the most popular. 

Have you tried Wordle? Want to brag about any victories or share any tips? I’d also love to know if you start with a certain word every time or not (I always choose a different word!). 





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