Experts explain why a simple word game went viral

Experts explain why a simple word game went viral

  • Wordle is the first viral game in 2022. Millions of people share their Wordle scores daily.
  • The simple puzzle can only ever be solved once per day.
  • Experts agree that it is a combination timing, functionality, as well as wholesomeness that has made it so appealing.

Twitter began to show images of yellow and green squares at the beginning 2022. These screenshots are from WordleThe simple puzzle game that everyone loved on the internet was ”, 

Wordle is an online game that allows users to identify five letters in six attempts. The tile turns green when you find the right letter in the correct place. It turns yellow if it is the wrong letter. A gray tile indicates that the letter isn’t in the word. 

The game started humblely. The New York TimesIt was reported that Josh Wardle (a Brooklyn software engineer) designed the game as a playable game for him and his friend. The game was released to the general public in October. The Guardian had been published by mid-January. reportedIt was played by over 2 million people.

British psychologist Lee ChambersInsider was told by a coach who specializes in well-being and environmental coaching that Wordle is so appealing because it stimulates both logic- and language processing areas of our brains. Wordle, like all games, also triggers the release of dopamine. This hormone allows us to feel satisfaction and pleasure.

Wordle isn’t the only game that went viral. Candy Crush and Farmville dominated Facebook feeds during the early 2010s. Animal Crossing and Houseparty were also popular in those early days of the pandemic.

Wordle stands out because of a few key features. Firstly, you only need a web browser to play — there are no gaming consoles to buy or apps to download. Second, you can only solve one puzzle each day. After you have guessed the word correctly, you will not be able to get another puzzle until midnight. 

Insider spoke to experts to learn how these unique factors and perfect timing led to the first viral gaming sensation in 2022.

Wordle’s creator made it very shareable 

Wardle revealed to the New York Times he added a score sharing option in December when he noticed players manually entering their results with emojis. Players can post their scores along with a visual representation on Twitter of the path they used to guess the word. The automated option does not require players to reveal the word of each day. This created a sense of community and helped the game to be more popular.

“The posts are instantly recognizable, so whether or not you’ve done today’s challenge, you feel like you’re part of the game,” Juliet Landau-Popea social scientist and productivity trainer. 

Chambers believed the game’s unique shareability was key for its online success.

“Constantly seeing the squares in our Twitter feed indicates that there is something to be solved, and others are on the case,” Chambers said. “It pulls us into investigating it ourselves.” 

Chambers also suggested that aesthetics might play a role. He said that the soothing colors of colored blocks could be soothing. “bring a comforting level of psychological order even when surrounded by chaos.” 

Its simplicity makes it a great source of memes. These memes have already started to flood Twitter and seem resonant with people, which has created even more buzz around this game.

One userThe Wordle blocks were compared to the shipping containers that were on the boat that was stuck in the Suez Canal. Others turned the Wordle block into something else. Common imagery and created relatable postsAbout playing.

@traceyfanclub started tweeting Wordle scores and cross-stitch. One follower said that it was that tweet that made her finally play the game.

It’s easy to feel connected because of the game’s functionality

Wordle is unique because players from all over the world can guess the exact same word in the same day.

“​​The fact that we are all trying to solve the same puzzle brings us together, helping us feel like we are tackling a bigger problem together,” Chambers said.

Our competitive spirit is also influenced by our collective experience. Harrison Gowland (a video-game developer) said he doesn’t share the results of other online games that he has played. Wordle gave him the motivation to do this.

“There’s both a sense of community in terms of ‘How difficult did people find it this time?’ and a competitive angle in terms of ‘How well did I stack up in finding this word compared to everyone else?'”He said. 

Gowland believes that part of the motivation stemmed from peer pressure. It was a feeling of not being left out or appearing to be missing out on a popular trend.

Landau-Pope explained that this sense a community helps to counter loneliness felt in real life and online. “especially in these dark winter months.” 

It was a pleasant distraction at the right time.

Wordle, unlike many online games, can only be used once per day. Wordle has fewer addictive pitfalls than other online games. “It’s a very smart product because people know that if they get hooked, they can’t waste more than a few moments each day,” Landau-Pope said. 

Chambers suggested that Wordle’s success may also have been due to the importance of timing. Wordle puzzles can be used to help us remember the day of each week because they are numbered with a daily count. This is especially important during holiday periods when our perceptions of time have been affected by pandemic restrictions, remote working, and remote work.

Landau-Pope stated that the sense of wholesome connection could have been exactly what we were looking at when it burst. She explained that the year before a new one was a period of reflection and that this year may have been particularly difficult for some people.

“Within all the political discontent, economic uncertainty, ongoing health crises, there’s a dearth of good news on social media,” Landau-Pope added. “Wordle has given us all something fun to focus on, if only for a few moments of the day.”

Check out Insider’s Digital Culture team for more stories similar to this.

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