You can play Wordle only once a day, but N.L. enthusiasts keep coming back for more

·3 min read
You can play Wordle only once a day, but N.L. enthusiasts keep coming back for more
Alex Kennedy/CBC
Alex Kennedy/CBC

Social media posts of green and yellow squares have led game enthusiasts across the world to Wordle, but Canadian data suggests the game is especially popular in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The free online word game has skyrocketed in popularity in recent weeks, challenging players to identify a five-letter word in six guesses or fewer. The word of the day is the same for all players, who get hints based on the words they guess.

After a player guesses a word — typing each letter of the word in a separate box — the game uses colours to indicate how close they are. A green box means a correct letter in the correct place, a yellow box means a correct letter in an incorrect place. and a grey box means the letter is not in the word. Players can share their results online via a chart of their colourful guesses.

According to a report from Global News, the Wordle website logged more than 2.5 million players in mid-January. But while the game has players worldwide, data from Google suggests it's punching above its weight in Newfoundland and Labrador.

According to Google Search Trends, which tracks data on how often and where terms are being searched, Newfoundland and Labrador searches for Wordle more than any other Canadian province.

Diane Coombs says she can see why the game is so popular.

"It's not so frustrating that you just want to like pitch your phone. I think it's just the right amount," Coombs said Wednesday.

"You tend to kind of leave it throughout the day for when you have the time … or you can just sink a whole hour into it without using up all six of your tries. So it's definitely hitting all the right dopamine buttons for me."

Coombs said she looks forward to the new word each day because it's a fun way to spend some free time or take her mind off COVID-19.

"It reminded me of when I was a kid doing puzzles with my grandfather.… It's hitting all the right buttons, and it's at the right time with that whole need to complete something and finish it and succeed," she said.

For Michael Kennedy of St. John's, the game is a great way to get some mental exercise each morning. He shares his results with a group of friends each day — and says things can get competitive.

"You'll get replies and they're kind of hinting around looking for clues or 'Can you give me a little help?" he said. "There's some — we'll call it Wordle etiquette, I guess. You definitely don't share any clues or anything like that. You keep the sportsmanship in it and let people find it out for themselves."

The perfect pandemic game

The social connection aspect of Wordle has caught the eye of psychologist Janine Hubbard, who has some ideas as to why the game is so popular.

"Throughout the pandemic, the one thing that we have learned is the importance of social connection.… There was this real sense of, 'We're in this together, we're going to get through this,'" Hubbard said.

"This is a really nice way for people to feel connected, both with friends and family as well as complete strangers from around the world for something that has nothing to do with COVID. And I think that is so essential right now."

Submitted by Janine Hubbard
Submitted by Janine Hubbard

Hubbard said the game's simple concept and design also factor into its popularity, keeping people guessing and sharing the game with friends.

"Everyone is having the same word each day. It's 'Hey, have you figured it out yet?' Kind of like, 'Who's in the club? Who is aware of the answer?'" she said. "Yes, you can Google it, but that spoils all the fun of it."

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