Gary Brown: Writing a few words on Wordle

·4 min read
Gary Brown
Gary Brown

If you've played Wordle for awhile, you're probably running out of five-letter starter words.

House. Juice. Audio. Ouija. Adieu.

These words are my gift to you. They use a lot of different letters. All are heavy on vowels. And when you finish with the day's Wordle puzzle, you can use them to crush the spirit of someone close to you in a friendly game of Scrabble.

Wordle. According to one online account, it's a "web-based word game developed by Welsh-born British software engineer Josh Wardle," who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. With a more appropriate vowel placed in the name of its creator, Wordle has become an online rage.

"It's been a meteoric rise for the once-a-day game, which invites players to guess a five-letter word," said an article earlier this year in the New York Times, which reported that the popularity of the puzzle had gone from a few dozen late in 2021 to hundreds of thousands – now many more – by the time the article was published on Jan. 2, 2022.

"After guessing a five-letter word, the game tells you whether any of your letters are in the secret word and whether they are in the correct place. You have six tries to get it right."

Admit it. You've played Wordle. Don't lie. We'll catch you in any fib.

If you've played, and solved a Wordle puzzle, then posted your answer on social media, we've all got proof.

Getting addicted was easy

I got addicted to Wordle – it does become a daily ritual quickly if you're a wordy person – with my loved one, who also is a puzzle fanatic. And, by that I mean if you get more of the scrambled words than she does on one day, she'll hide the clues from you the next day with her hand.

Routinely, the two of us join forces in attempts to solve scrambled word puzzles, the Sudoku, a crossword and cryptogram quote, before we "cool down" by finding all the words in a more simple word-search block of letters.

Lately, though, after we both saw a friend post her winning Wordle answer on Facebook, we have added that game to our puzzle repertoire, as well.

Within a week, we were addicted. Who am I kidding? We were hooked the first day.

Our one-time-a-day chance to play Wordle has turned into an intellectually challenging exercise and also has served to feed our competitive – "my vocabulary is bigger than your vocabulary" – needs.

Yesterday, when we solved the puzzle in three guesses, one of us, the one who came up with the word, got up and did a "puzzle-solving dance."

I won't admit who that was.

Selling out the game

I just have one worry.

And, that is not running out of five letter words. I'm a writer. I own a dictionary. So, the moment I can't think of words on my own, I'll use it. Even if you look a word up, it's still a guess. Don't debate me on that. If you argue that it's cheating, I'll just call it research.

No, my fear is that Wordle is going to cost me more than the time I could have better spent to cure or invent something.

I heard the other day that the creator of the game had sold Wordle – for seven figures, so who can blame him – to the New York Times.

The people at the newspaper promise that the game will "initially" remain free.

How long is initially?

Also, if the Times starts charging for Wordle, and I begin paying for it, how will that affect my play?

Will I go from being a three- or four-guess player – we're talking hypothetically here, not measuring my actual intellectual skill – to a six-guess guy, just because the more letters and words that I try, the less the game costs, per letter and per word?

Hey, it worked to help me rationalize the astronomically high golf scores I shot. Per stroke, I always get my money's worth.

I may be competitive, but I'm even more cheap.

Reach Gary at gary.brown.rep@gmail.com. On Twitter: @gbrownREP.

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Gary Brown: Writing a few words on Wordle