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It’s a Word’s World | Maxine Mah

Grey. Grey. Grey. YELLOW. GREEN.


YELLOW. Grey. Grey. YELLOW. GREEN.


GREEN. GREEN. GREEN. GREEN. GREEN.


Congrats! You just won your first game of Wordle -- the word game that has taken the world by storm.


Similar to the Game Pigeon games Anagrams and Word Hunt, Wordle is focused on the different combinations of letters. You have six chances to create the five-letter word of the day. A grey letter means it’s completely incorrect and nowhere in the word, a yellow letter means that letter is in the word but not in the right place, and a green letter means that you got the correct letter in the correct place! Along with this, Wordle gives you a keyboard to show you what letters you’ve used so far and their attributed color, just to help you out a little.


For the past week, people all over Twitter and TikTok have been sharing their strategies and answers with each other. Some start the game by using “ADIEU,” a word with four out of six vowels. Some start with random words like “BREAD” or “FARTS” and then try to get into the game seriously. The biggest flex is getting the word correct on the first try, with no yellows or greys to be found. And others share their progress by showing their final score with solid color emojis -- never sharing the correct answer.


So far, there have been articles written on NPR, BuzzFeed, and Forbes all about the game. Headlines like “What Your Wordle Strategy Says About You” or “Wordle Memes on Twitter I Can’t Forget” cover trending pages and there’s even a secret Google Doodle when you search up the game. While no one really knows why Wordle has gotten so massively popular, part of the reason why many people like it is because of its simplicity. At face value, it’s easy to understand and easy to play. And similar to the Game Pigeon word games, there’s a very simple satisfaction at finding the correct word with the information provided to you, especially after getting closer and closer with each new word you put in.


The New York Times Crossword had also experienced this type of quick popularity, especially across social media. Screen recordings of people playing as well as creating leaderboards with peers can be found all over TikTok; there are even creators whose accounts are solely made for NYT crossword advice. Quite interesting how many stereotypically “boring” word puzzles have gained popularity with the one generation it wasn’t made for.


You’ll rarely ever see a high school student holding a New York Times newspaper and solving a crossword puzzle. Or seeing someone aggressively type in letters as opposed to playing Snake. And while yes, most of Gen-Z can be found scrolling on TikTok or Instagram in their free-time, the content on their explore pages can range from watching someone complete a crossword to memes adults wouldn’t understand.


Perhaps teenagers are regressing back to activities that require actual brainpower to win. Perhaps they’re just following the crowd, doing what their content shows them. Or perhaps they’re finding that the activities their grandparents spend their morning on are actually fun. Whatever the case, word games will clearly never cease to be popular across all ages. I implore you to check out Wordle -- and the New York Times crossword -- just as a fun way to fill time, or maybe a fun way to challenge yourself. And of course, best of luck; sometimes those five-letter words don’t come easy.


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