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Wordle Offers Simple Satisfaction

January 28th, 2022 by dk

Not all viruses are bad. Not everything that spreads like wildfire cuts a path of destruction. Some epidemics slow those who are infected, but does them no harm. Rage isn’t always rooted in anger.

I’m referring, of course, to Wordle, a simple online word game that has gone viral, spread like wildfire, infected many of us. It’s all the rage.

Wordle gives you six chances to guess a five-letter word. Letters common to the hidden word and your guess change colors — green if they are in the right place, yellow if they’re not. It’s a mix of crosswords, Scrabble, and Boggle. Each game takes only a few minutes.

There’s nothing excessive or clunky about Wordle, except its web address: www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/ — but that tells you something important. Josh Wardle, its creator, lives in Brooklyn but he grew up in Wales. (There’s something else Eugene readers should know about him, but I’ll save it for the end.)

Wardle models British restraint. He has no plans to roll out Wordle Pro or Wordle Max. He won’t sell adjacent ads on the simple website. It’s already complete, not begging to be improved, though imitators have been quick to try. (Google and Apple have both rejected game apps that mimic Wordle too closely.)

Here’s what’s great about Wordle, using five letters.

S is for Spare. There’s no clutter to it, anywhere. The screen shows a keyboard and six rows of empty tiles. Once you fill a row, the keyboard letters change colors. Chosen letters that are not in the word are dimmed gray so you know not to use them again. Wordle promises no unnecessary distractions — Marie Kondo would love it.

A is for Accepted. Only common five-letter words are accepted before the tiles change color. There are no tricks allowed. “EIEIO” is not an acceptable synonym for “farm.” The hidden word is likewise common. No surprises. This is not the Sunday crossword puzzle with arcane clues and bad puns. Everything you need is right in front of you.

T is for Time. The game doesn’t care about it. There is no clock. There are no other players waiting their turn. Nothing inside the game asks you to hurry.

E  is for Expiration. You cannot binge Wordle. Each day’s puzzle is its own. The site won’t allow you to play two games in a row. You’re allowed one game per day. That’s it. Once you complete your game, the site counts the hours, minutes, and seconds until you can play again. Until  then, get on with your life.

D is for Discrete. The game is between you and your 26 keyboard friends. There is no team play. You can share your results for each game on social media, but not your cumulative scores or current streak. Those records are displayed, but cannot be easily shared.

As I researched this column, I ran across this fun detail: Wardle is a Duck. (MFA, Digital Design, 2011) Wordle won’t save the world. It makes the world more bearable for a few minutes. That will have to suffice.

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Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at www.dksez.com.

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