The GuardianThe Guardian

I was asked to invent the next Wordle. How hard could it be?

By David Shariatmadari

22 Dec 2022 · 20 min read

Editor's Note

After offering readers advice on how to crack Wordle, Guardian journalist David Shariatmadari was asked by an editor to come up with his own idea for a game. Here he tells us how Wordiply was born.

It’s December 2021. We’ve been through 18 months of grief, fear and disruption. Just as life is beginning to return to normal for many, warnings of a sinister new variant spread. People are searching for reassurance, distraction. Or, failing that, just something that doesn’t have its own designated horseman of the apocalypse.

Wordle comes along at the perfect time. Its creator, Josh Wardle, a software engineer living in Brooklyn, invented it that summer to entertain his partner, Palak Shah. It’s a simple pleasure: there’s a hidden word and, using powers of deduction, you have six attempts to figure out what it is. The game was never intended for public consumption – it was only after it became a hit on the family WhatsApp that Wardle began to think it might have wider appeal. And, sure enough, by the end of the year millions were playing and sharing their results on social media. It spawned a Spanish language version, then Arabic, French, Swedish and Japanese. It inspired joyful imitations: Worldle, where you have to guess a country from its shape; Emovi, where you have to figure out the film from a plot sketched in emoji. Key to all of them was a mechanism that acted as a counterweight to our hyperactive online lives: there was only one round a day, and the solution was the same for everyone.

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