Puzzle Pro explains why you can’t stop playing viral hit Wordle


WORDLE is still going strong after going viral on Twitter, but a puzzle pro breaks down why its simple format is a winning formula.

Mark Whiteway, head of content at Puzzler magazine which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, explains why the daily word puzzle is so addictive.

Puzzler mag saw a surge in popularity during lockdown and a special issue raised over £18k for  NHS Charities Together

Wordle hits the sweet spot when it comes to difficulty

“I think that the game has been very cleverly thought through. The beauty of it is its kind of simplicity,” explains Whiteway.

“It takes seconds to understand and and is based on language which is something that everyone has in common. It doesn’t require a lot of knowledge to have a go at…

“I think [Wordle] plays into that knowledge that everyone has without necessarily knowing they’ve got it.”

According to Whiteway, Wordle hits a sweet spot in terms of diffculty; too hard, and people will get frustrated; too easy, and it’s no fun.

“One of the crafts in creating a good puzzle is to get the level right, and I think that’s what’s been done [with Wordle].

“Words have been chosen carefully. And also six guesses is, I think, just about the right amount to give you a really go at it.

“But it introduces a little bit of jeopardy as well, so that you won’t necessarily get it — even if all of your guesses are sensible,”

Wordle is the perfect guilt-free, feel-good distraction

One of Wordle’s charms is that it dispenses one puzzle daily, and after six guesses — win or lose — you’re done for the day.

While infinite Wordle clones like Wheeldle have since popped up, its this formula which has helped in its rise in popularity.

“Word games… and puzzles [are] a great escape from other things that are going on. They’re a great distraction.

“And the beauty of [Wordle] is it takes only a couple of minutes. So there’s no guilt involved in doing it.

“It’s a puzzle that has a solution. You know, most of the problems that we encounter, don’t have a very easy solution.

“The brain is geared to try and problem solve and any hit it can get from finding a solution to a solvable puzzle gives you a reward.

“[Wordle] plays into all of those things. Word puzzles generally do all of that because you’ve got a starting point.  

“You have got some of that knowledge straight away. So whatever puzzles you do — whether it be crosswords or Puzzler’s Codewords, it’s great entertainment.”

He calls the daily aspect a “clever idea” adding that “it won’t take up a lot of your time but it also leaves you wanting more. So it’s the anticipation of of the next one.”

Wordle’s spoiler-free social aspect adds another layer

“I I think the social aspect of it is very important. I like the neat way that it does it. It’s very visual.

“That pattern of squares and colours, and no spoilers. It’s a brilliant way of spreading the message that you’ve got it without giving anything away. I think that’s very neat.

“And obviously with the emojis that you share, you can see the different strategies people are doing.

“So my strategy, for example — I won’t reuse the letters I’ve already revealed because I want to get the most information as possible.”

Wordle tips and tricks

I took the opportunity to ask for some Wordle tips and tricks and they lined up with HOAR’s Wordle strategies.

In brief, don’t reuse letters across guesses, don’t forget about repeating letters, ‘Y’ can be used as a vowel, and pick a word with three vowels for your first guess.

And if there’s anything ‘favor-gate’ taught us, it’s to keep an eye out for US spelling, and slightly obscure words.

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