World of Wordle

There’s a trend going around, it’s called Wordle. The search for words in the style of a code-breaker in six rapid rounds is as simple as it is entertaining. The ability to compete with others in the process creates competition on the side without being intrusive. The simplicity of the game is fantastic and I can well understand why so many have jumped on the bandwagon.

However, what fascinates me the most is that neither the original, nor the German version require registration or purchase. There is an ad-free website that does not collect any personal data. And the game itself doesn’t want to tie you up for many hours, but offers a short, entertaining fun every day. The inventor Josh Wardle, also the German offshoot of Philipp Hübner and many others probably have a very similar understanding of good entertainment that does not have to be permanently and always monetized. And that’s quite astonishing, since everything is permanently monetized these days.

And it’s not about people not earning money with their work. I’m always happy to pay for entertainment. But the number of games, which hardly served the entertainment anymore, but only to attract as many paying whales as possible, seemed to make me almost doubt humanity. The plague of so-called clickers, which want to force you over and over again into dull loops, numb you to such an extent that you can probably even embellish the wasted hours with nice words. Here, companies are not investing in the development of entertainment, but of mechanisms that pull money out of your pocket.

But rather than focus further here on my lack of understanding of what’s bad in the world, I’d actually much rather return to the abundantly harmless Wordle. The simple game with words perhaps works so well because people have nothing else to do. But the admirable access requirements certainly helped. And as befits a proper trend, there are of course those who are annoyed by it for no reason when others share their results in the well-known networks. But at its core, there’s really nothing wrong with the concept. Actually.

Because while I was hoping for imitators who would follow suit with new ideas, the creator sold his idea to the New York Times for millions. And there it was again, the specter of capitalism, which suggests that money can buy everything. So quickly, the pink elephant is back in the room, asking about the return on investment. It was a brief utopia. But humanity may simply not be yet ready for more.

Wordle was developed by software engineer Josh Wardle and released to the public in October 2021. A sharing feature followed in December, resulting in 1.2 million images shared on Twitter in the first half of January, highlighting its rapid popularity. By the end of January 2022, New York Times had already purchased the game for an unspecified amount in the million.

This post is also available in: German