02 Feb

Wordle me this

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Although my research is primarily about technology and inequality in Armenia and Azerbaijan, I do dabble occasionally in studying games. Also all of my teaching, undergrad and grad, is on broader technology and society, so I keep up with the research.

I got into Wordle like many others did in January 2022 and I tweeted about it. A tech journalist saw me tweeting about it and contacted me for an email interview. I replied and gave some thoughts. This has turned into me being interviewed about Wordle quite a bit in the past few weeks. I’ll archive them here.

My main points:

  • Wordle is really easy to pick up (no app, no login, etc.).
  • Wordle is easy to get started with.
  • Being forced to only play once a day on the official Wordle page is nice compared to other social media “breaks” where it is easy to get sucked in.
  • It allows for a performance of being “smart” or “intellectual” by sharing results.
  • During the pandemic in particular, people are really tired and don’t have a ton of bandwidth to interact with others, but sharing Wordle results allows people to be social with very little labor.
  • One can feel part of a community of fellow Wordle players or part of the “in-crowd” or at least the “intellectual” crowd
  • There are now clones in many languages and to me, this is getting very interesting – folks are playing in a second language, folks are playing in their heritage language.
  • There are people trying to figure out the best starter word, which is fun.
  • There is already backlash about sharing results, and I suspect that the sharing of results will die out soon.
  • Now that the New York Times has bought Wordle, eventually they will put it behind their games paywall, which is currently $5/month. People online are annoyed about paying for it, but IMHO, NYT Games is probably the best home for it. Their existing games are really nice and Wordle fits in well. And it is nice that the inventor got paid.

What you should know: Wordle.The Hawk Newspaper. February 8, 2022.

Wordle and the future of the internet’s favorite word game. NPR’s On Point [radio interview]. February 4, 2022.

What Makes Wordle So Popular? Psychologists Explain Its Appeal. GameSpot. February 1, 2022.

Wordle. KNX In Depth [radio interview]. February 1, 2022.

Why Is Everyone Suddenly Playing Wordle? Psychologists Explain. Inc. January 30, 2022.

Wordle is a deceptively easy game for burnt-out pandemic shut-ins. Vox. January 20, 2022.