What is 'Wordle', the online game everyone's talking about?

The free daily puzzle has garnered hundreds of thousands of players in a few months

'Wordle' challenges players to guess a five-letter word in six tries. Photo: Wordle
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In three months, Wordle has amassed about 300,000 users.

The free online game, which is available on a website as opposed to a mobile app, challenges people to find five-letter words with six guesses.

There's just one word to solve every day and it's the same for everyone. Players must guess any word (with five letters) and letters in the word but in the wrong place turn gold, while those in the right place turn green and those not there at all go grey.

Players need to find the answer within six guesses and then they can post how fast they solved the puzzle on social media, although the word remains a mystery so it doesn't ruin it for everyone else.

It's a simple premise that's gone viral, although that's not what its creator, Josh Wardle, had intended, which is why he aims to keep it advertisement-free moving forward.

"I am a bit suspicious of mobile apps that demand your attention and send you push notifications to get more of your attention," he told BBC Radio 4's Today.

"I like the idea of doing the opposite of that – what about a game that deliberately doesn't want much of your attention? Wordle is very simple and you can play it in three minutes, and that is all you get.

"There are also no ads and I am not doing anything with your data, and that is also quite deliberate."

The software engineer, who lives in Brooklyn in the US, originally created the game in 2013, but his friends weren't keen on the idea, he told the programme.

He still went ahead and did it during the pandemic, as a nod to his partner's love of words. It then caught on within his family, and he released it to the world in October.

“I think people kind of appreciate that there’s this thing online that’s just fun,” Wardle told The New York Times. “It’s not trying to do anything shady with your data or your eyeballs. It’s just a game that’s fun.”

He says the enforced limit of one puzzle a day also leaves people wanting more.

Updated: January 06, 2022, 12:50 PM