If you play Wordle, prepare to be bamboozled by five-letter words
Wordle seems to have gained some traction. It’s gotten a few spinoffs that focus on geography or increasing the stakes. I haven’t played them because one addiction feels like enough. Besides this, regular Wordle is hard for me as it is. Doing the more complicated spinoffs would take over my life, I say while laughing.
I started playing, out of idle curiosity, after hearing the word of mouth. Then I started signing in when I realized that it could be fun. Some of my friends said they enjoyed playing it. My sister told me about it, and how there are now variants if you want to give yourself a challenge. Now I check the Wordle site daily. I wait eagerly for the time limit on the next word choice to run out so that I can try again and prove my smarts.
Regardless of the fun, I maintain that Wordle can be very evil. This I say partly in jest, so rest assured that I am still playing. The game is a lot of fun if a mild irritant at times. Here are my reasons why I think the game is a bit manipulative and addicting.
Wordle.com Is Not the Domain Name
You would think that the new York Times would claim wordle.com so that people can run a search easily. After all, Wordle by itself is a unique name. Developer Josh Wardle used his name as inspiration, of the power in the words.
Instead, you get sent to a domain name full of ads. No one has claimed wordle.com, meaning that it remains a red herring for people that want a simple URL.
To find the Wordle site, you have to run Google. Then you have to remember the NYT website is what pops up first. Doesn’t this seem silly? It feels like the NYT could afford to buy the Wordle.com domain.
Being an English Major Hampers You
The basic premise of Wordle is that you get a few chances to guess a five-letter word for the day. Green means you got the letter and placement right, while yellow means that the letter is in the word, but the placement is wrong. So you have to rearrange things a little.
There is a problem when you’ve grown up attending gifted programs and doing your best to maintain an A average in them: you know too many words. Teachers drilled one in knowing words from Beowulf and Shakespeare, and obscure slang that hasn’t been spoken offstage or outside a class for two hundred years. I blanked out the Charlotte Temple book from my head because that book was terrible, I tell you.
As a result, the most esoteric words come to mind when you are trying to think about the right word of the day. You might put in “prate” or “prowl” when a simpler word like “peach” will do. Or you rack your brains trying to figure out if John Dos Passos, which you blocked out from American Lit honors, somehow came up with a phrase that will end up used one day in the 2020s lexicon. We only have comfort that frumious, courtesy of Lewis Carroll, will not appear because it is too long, but mimsy or snark might. “Frake” might also appear, though it seems that Google says the word has an obscure meaning.
The Limited Times To Play Make One Eager To Return
Wordle doesn’t let you play continuously. Depending on how fast you get the word, and if you win or lose, there’s a time limit before you can return and test your mettle. That can be as short as 9 hours, or as long as 23. In other words, you may have to wait a full day before you can try again.
The benefit is that one cannot spend all their time playing Wordle. You have to return to normal life after a point. That means you will not stare at the six letters infinitely.
While such a limit means that Wordle cannot consume your life, it does remain on the mind. You wonder if you can rise to the challenge. They work hard to keep you enticed. That is probably why the spinoffs are popular, and they up the ante for difficulty. I don’t dare try them. Using regular Wordle is hard enough.
Resetting Your Streak and Success Rate Doesn’t Come With an Easy Button
If only you could reset your streak after getting a word wrong, using an account. I thought I was doing well, guessing words using hunches and the process of elimination. Then I got a word wrong, and the game hasn’t let me forget.
An ego bruises easily. As an English major and writer, with a competitive streak that I rarely unleash because I don’t pick up gameplay nuances easily, it does hurt that the one game that it seems I would master is a bit more like snakes and ladders. You can’t predict when you will get better or identify the patterns. It would take a few months to master, rather than a few days.
To reset Wordle, you have to erase your browser history. I have no desire to do that right now. It seems like a bit of effort, especially when you get constantly reminded of how many words that you guessed incorrectly. Plus, it would erase all of the progress that you have made on a device. Then you can’t review the amount of five-letter words that exist in the English lexicon. And again, where is the fun in that?
You Get Shamed for Turning To Help
As an amateur gamer, I can say that I often need help with playing games. I don’t dodge bullet hell easily. In addition, I don’t often play with a controller. You would think that Wordle would come naturally to me. It does not.
I sometimes turn to the internet for help when I get some letters right on Wordle but then I have to quickly fix them. Some websites pass no judgment and provide suggestions to help you fill in the blanks.
My sister teased me lightly when I explained that sometimes I turn to Google. She says that the fun of Wordle is if you can figure out the word. I would rather have the assistance on days when my brain doesn’t summon the right word.
All joking aside, I do feel that Wordle has made 2022 more fun. It’s nice to have a game where words do matter but aren’t high stakes. Words have power, and here they remind us of their multitudes.
Why Wordle Is Evil, I Say With Love was originally published in SUPERJUMP on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.