I am terrible at Scrabble, I can never come up with words within my set of tiles. I can’t do crossword puzzles either, though my mother loved them.
And then along came Wordle.
In case you’ve been living in total isolation (in which case you’re not reading this anyway) you’ve seen the game, or read articles about the phenomenon it’s become.
People around the world are figuring out the 5 letter word of the day, through a process of guesses and elimination. There are any number of ‘best’ strategies, most centered on how to choose your first word, from which you will, hopefully, discover the final word.
I haven’t read any of the articles; I think doing so would take the fun out of the experience. But I will tell you why playing Wordle is fun for me.
It’s fun because there’s no time pressure, nobody else is waiting for me to make my move. I can take my time and methodically work through all the available letters. I can consider different combinations at my leisure, ponder on it for half a day if I want to. Consider my next move. And when I am successful I get to share my success (but not the word) with all my friends. For me the sharing is the icing on the game.
And there’s something interesting about knowing that thousands of people are all looking for words along with you. All kinds of people are taking time off from their regular life to discover one word. Across this country and around the world people are focused, for a few minutes, on something as simple as a word
The same word. We’re all thinking about, stratigizing over, smiling or frowning over the same word. It kind of makes me feel connected, and in these lingering times of isolation, that’s a good thing.
But I swear there’s a novel waiting to be written based on the way this game has spread, in the way someone is manipulating us all to find a single word each day. Somewhere, in the far reaches of my brain, I wonder how it could be used in a story of suspense, if the one word each day could begin to change people’s opinions, or thought processes, or even behaviors. Or maybe the daily words are a series of hints to some horrible event that will end the world unless someone figures it all out and saves us all.
The thing about this game that I like the most, that everybody’s headed for the same word, is the thing that makes me feel a little creepy once in awhile. Especially if it’s a weird word that might have several meanings or connotations. I imagine some guy in a dark lab somewhere chortling over his choice of words, anticipating a whole society gasping in shock when they figure it out.
Oh, but all this is ridiculous. People would have to be addicted to playing the game. The game would have to be run by some huge mastermind. There would have to be sinister intent not readily visible to the regular folks playing the harmless game.
Since I’m not into conspiracy theories, I’m going to just enjoy finding the word each morning and cheering my friends on when they find it in fewer guesses than me. And when the New York Times starts charging for the game I’ll move on to the next craze.
But for now I think it’s kind of cool that people are focused on words.
How about you? Are you playing or have you resisted the temptation?