Jan. 20—All y'all posting your Wordle results to social media: Keep it up. I love seeing you be excited about a game.
Full confession: That was not my first thought when encountering the onslaught of green and yellow boxes in my Twitter and Facebook feeds.
If you are like old cranky grumpy me and wondering why all these annoying boxes are in everyone's feeds these days, you should be like smarter cooler chill me and just relax, dude. People are excited about a game, and it's a game that lets people flex their language muscles, so let 'em have their fun.
Even better, you should try it, like I did. You'll discover a neat little game developed by a cool guy.
Wordle is a new game available for anyone with internet access. Developed by Josh Wardle, the game challenges you to correctly guess a randomly chosen, five-letter word.
Invoking elements of Hangman and Mastermind, your first guess is bound to be as random as the chosen word. Nevertheless, you enter your guess.
From there, the game colors each letter with one of three colors:
—Black letters mean the letter isn't in the chosen word at all.
—Yellow letters are in the word, but in the wrong spots.
—Green letters are in the word and in the correct spot.
Here's an example from my first game ever (officially it's Wordle 214 from Wednesday):
My initial guess was TRASH. Only the T lit up as yellow. Everything else was black. Crap. Looking at the letters I used, I guessed FETID next, keeping the T in there, dodging the other letters. T and I lit up yellow. Progress, I guess.
Looking for other consonants to pair with the I and T, I guessed PITON, and that hit a major payday. P was green, and every other letter was yellow! All I had to do was keep the P where it was and unscramble the rest for POINT. Score: 4/6. Not bad, I guess!
That's how the game works, and that explains the green and yellow boxes in everyone's feed: It is a way players can share their results and experience without spoiling the word of the day.
That's important, because players can play Wordle only once a day. It's a daily dose of clever fun, and the grid of colored emoji is a brilliant way to share your success or failure.
Wardle, the developer, came up with the game last year and released it in October. In an interview with Slate published this month, Wardle said the game was designed to work unlike many of the other games available on the internet, which demand continuous attention and fill your phone with notifications.
That part was a happy accident, anyway. The real reason the game works like it does is because he set out to make a game he and his his partner would enjoy. Decisions about gameplay, interactivity, word choices and everything else were made with the couple in mind.
There are some clever innovations going on, such as an in-game keyboard replacing whatever your phone tries to pull up. But the biggest advance for the game's popularity has to do with sharing to socials.
Wardle said that wasn't his innovation: Other players came up with the emoji grid of boxes to post their wins and scores without spoiling the word. The sharing is probably the best part: It copy-pastes only the puzzle number and emoji grid. No ads. There isn't even a link.
Based on the love story behind the game's creation, and the simplicity with which it works, it's easy to see why Wordle is charming the internet. It is also easy to see why a flood of knock-offs have hit app stores. If you want to play, you can play it right here. Do not download any apps to play this.
I'm glad I got over my hesitation, because all the posts reminded me of all the photo-morphing, quiz-taking, birth month-selecting crap apps out there that collect user data on the sly.
Take one of those apps that change your user picture into a Pixar/Disney-style animation. Users must submit a picture to a server, and that pic can be stored or saved with the submitter having any idea of how it could be used.
Other times, there's no app involved. Just a meme or a hashtag. Many of my friends took part in the #10YearsChallenge, where they posted a picture of themselves from 10 years ago and paired it with a recent pic.
Usually, whenever one of those types of memes makes the rounds, I do not participate or engage. I might snark or spoof, but most of the time I ignore. Especially that most recent one — 10 years ago I was surrounded by tornado wreckage and recovery, so I had no intention of posting such a pic.
So when Wordle started making the rounds, I thought about what kind of joke I could make about it. I tried to think of a funny way to make fun of the players.
Then I looked at my own feeds, filled with posts about "Destiny" and "D&D," and realized I was being an IDIOT.
People are excited about a game! How can I crap on that and not keep any semblance of geek respect? How can I spoof on people taking on a puzzle and earning a victory?
There is also something uplifting and inspiring about seeing everyone's grids. They all are a mess of black, green and yellow at the start, but by the time they hit that final bottom line? All green, dude. All green. Awesome.
Keep on sharing those Wordle grids, gang. I'm on board.
Oh, before I forget, quick question, Wordle players: Has GLOBE been one of the solutions yet?
Follow Digital Editor Joe Hadsall on Twitter at @JoeHadsall.