Have you played it yet?  It's only been three months since the game first went public but it's estimated that "as many as 14% of American adults" have made the word game a part of their daily routine.

First: what is it?  Wordle is an online game that differs from a lot of other similar games these days as there isn't an app to download; players go to a website for game play.

Once there, you're faced with a word puzzle.  Wordle words are five letters in length, and come from a pre-established list.  Users try to solve the puzzle in six attempts or less.  Each word guess comes back with a response from the artificial intelligence that drives the game play - telling how close you came.  Guessed letters that match those in the actual word come back as a gold (or yellow) box; if that letter is in the word and also in the correct spot, it's lit up in green. If you ever played the classic board game Mastermind, imagine there being letters and not colors to solve.

Two other things differentiate Wordle from other trending online games.

First - everyone who is playing gets the same word; said differently, the computer server that selects that word is serving up the same game (and word) to everyone who is playing. The other thing that's different about Wordle: you can only play it once per day.  Unlike most online-style games that try to draw you into a never-ending cycle of game play, Wordle only serves up one word each day.

Internet Word Game Wordle Goes Viral
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The game was designed by - and named for - Josh Wardle - yes the 'a' is correct.  Wardle, the person, has experience in online "social experiments", having been the mastermind behind 'Place' and 'The Button' for Reddit. Wardle first designed Wordle for private use between himself and his partner as "they really got into the New York Times Spelling Bee and daily crossword puzzle". He finally issue it to the general public in mid-October 2021 after getting close friends and relatives hooked.

Since that time, the game has spread like wildfire on social media.  Wardle included an option at the end of the game that lets you share your success rate with your followers; hence the green and gold boxes you may have seen from your friends on your Facebook feeds.

Internet Word Game Wordle Goes Viral
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To aid in game play, a wide variety of hints, clues, and suggestion websites have evolved - each designed to help users play successfully.  It goes without saying that the first word attempt sets the tone for the rest of your chances; the more matches you can get right off the bat - the faster you can solve the game.

So what should you use as a first word?  Experts suggest one that includes as many vowels as possible.  There are also theories as to which other letters would potentially show up across the largest number of potential words. One website offers these five words as good starting words:

But what if you wanted to play Wordle with a Duluth-centric attitude?  In other words - what if you wanted to use the sort of five letter words that have a connection to Duluth, the Twin Ports, the Northland?

Internet Word Game Wordle Goes Viral
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Here is a list of Duluth-based five-letter words that I came up with - perfect for guesses at Wordle:

  • Canal - as in Canal Park
  • Shore - as in North Shore
  • Enger - as in Enger Tower
  • North - many uses in our area (North Shore, the direction...)
  • Ports - as in Twin Ports
  • Dylan - one of the area's most-famous musicians
  • Arena - think about all of the ice areas in the Northland.
  • Point - as in Park Point
  • Ships - living in the Northland, we see these go through the port every day
  • Range - as in Iron Range
  • Sleds - a necessary piece of winter equipment - especially for kids
  • Snowy - we get a lot of precipitation in the winter
  • Eagle - the natural habitat in our area is very conducive to eagles
  • Colds - the winter season has plenty of chances to get sick
  • Parks - there are a lot of parks in the Northland
  • Pucks - a natural connection to hockey - one of the Northland's most-popular sports
  • Lakes - hello?  We live in a state with "10,000 lakes"
  • Truck - goes hand in hand with the ships in our port
  • Glove - a necessary winter item
  • Train - many railroads pass through the Twin Ports
  • Trail - our area is full of trails
  • Black - as in ice
  • Metro - the Twin Ports is officially categorized as a metro area
  • Beers - the Northland is full of local breweries
  • Pizza - this food item has a big connection to our area (Sammy's, anyone?)
  • Italy - many early immigrants to the Northland region came from this country
  • Lange - as in Jessica Lange, who was born in Cloquet
  • Telly - as in Telly Savalas, who married someone from Duluth and owned a home here

So back to my question: Have you tried Wordle yet? Even though it can be challenging and addictive - the good thing is that you can only play it once a day.

Internet Word Game Wordle Goes Viral
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