Wordle takes Acalanes High by S-T-O-R-M

Wordle has become a  fast-growing trend at Acalanes High School and around the world.

Julia Poole, Acalanes High School

Wordle has become a fast-growing trend at Acalanes High School and around the world.

Julia Poole, Acalanes High School

A five-by-six grid filled with green, yellow, and gray squares lights up the screens of many Acalanes students as they wander the halls or play during class. Wordle has become a world-wide phenomenon, landing stories in top newspapers and on popular news shows.

Acalanes students and teachers alike pull out their phones to attempt the Wordle of the day, talking to their friends to see how fast they got the word.

“Everyone always plays it in all my classes. Before class, during class, and after class, people are always talking about the Wordle,” Acalanes sophomore Allie Van De Poel said. 

Wordle players have six chances to guess a five-letter word. Letters that appear in yellow are in the word but misplaced and letters that appear in green are in the right place. Many players argue that the most intriguing aspect of the game is that there is only a new Wordle once a day. 

Josh Wardle, a software engineer from New York, originally created Wordle for his partner because they enjoy playing word games together. He released the game to the public in October 2021, but it did not gain traction until December 2021, when Wardle added the ability to copy results as emojis. Players shared these emojis all over Twitter and other social media platforms.

“I saw people posting their scores and I was like, ‘What is that?’ So I played [Wordle] and it was fun,” Acalanes drama teacher Ed Meehan said. 

This idea of sharings results and competing against others is a large element of the game’s sudden popularity. 

“I usually [play Wordle] with my family and they send it on our group chat. We kind of challenge each other every day to see who can get it first,” Acalanes sophomore Lindsay Kim said.

A popular strategy includes choosing words with often-used consonants and several vowels. 

“Normally you try to pick words with a lot of vowels and then you go from there,” Acalanes senior Maya Stelzer said. 

Many students find the unique quality of only being able to play once a day the most enticing aspect of the game. While some games possess a similar trait, most offer the chance to play anytime. 

“I think [people like Wordle] because [it] is a daily thing. It keeps people coming back. They can’t play it all the time,” Van De Poel said.

The New York Times recently purchased Wordle for an undisclosed amount of money, though it is reported to be in the low seven-figures. The New York Times added it to their games website, joining the famous daily crossword and other unique games such as Spelling Bee and Vertex. In the deal, Wordle and The Times agreed to keep the game free to play and without ads. Currently, the game generates no revenue. 

“I like that [Wordle] doesn’t drag you in and try to sell you anything. It’s just quick and easy,” Acalanes College and Career Counselor Debbie Levy said. 

There are dozens of Wordle knock-offs online including Taylordle, Lordle of the Rings, Letterle, Crosswordle, Primel, Word Master, Hello Wordl, Absurdle, Nerdle, and many others. These games often revolve around a specific theme, such as Taylor Swift, or use numbers, like Nerdle, allowing different players to thrive in their most niche bits of knowledge.

“I like [Taylordle] because I don’t know what else to do with my knowledge of Taylor Swift and I can feel smart doing Taylordle when I can’t figure out the Wordle,” Acalanes sophomore Siena Billings said. 

While competing against another person is a large component of its popularity, the individual challenge of Wordle draws players in as well. 

“I honestly think [Wordle] has really expanded my vocabulary. It can be really frustrating, but at the same time it makes you think really hard over a long period of time. It forces you to be creative with your words,” sophomore Kim said.