WORDLE: What makes this game so addictive?

wgu example of wordle game

FRAME’, ‘SKILL’ and ‘ULTRA’ are just a few examples of 5-letter words that have captivated the nation recently, as popular word game, Wordle has gone viral across the Atlantic with gamers trying to guess each word of the day.

Created by Welsh-born Josh Wardle, Wordle was originally invented in 2013 as a prototype model for friends. Josh revisited the game during the pandemic and after much popularity, he decided to make the puzzle public.

The game is relatively simple – you have six attempts to guess a five-letter word. After each guess, the game lets you know which letters either are or aren’t in the word and if the letters are in the right place. In early February, the game was bought by The New York Times for an undisclosed fee, which has been rumoured to be seven figures.

With now a reported 2 million daily users, you may be wondering what makes the game so addictive? We asked our experts why.

Dr Neil Pickles, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, explained the cognitive science behind the game. “Effects of puzzles and word games are a well-researched topic, mainly for the cognitive functions they utilise and whether they can have a positive impact on neurodegenerative conditions. Scrabble and cryptic crosswords have been popular for many years and have now been joined by Wordle, the latest puzzle craze. These games rely on memory, logic, and cognition – all of which are important processes and part of our fundamental human nature to solve problems. We enjoy playing them for the ‘eureka’ moment of working out a solution and it increases the production of Dopamine. This chemical is a brain neurotransmitter that allows messages to be sent between nerve cells and influences our experience of pleasure and improves brain function.”

We also asked Rich Hebblewhite, Senior Lecturer in Computing, his thoughts on the game and industry. “Wordle is the classic example of a breakout success within the casual gaming market” said Rich. “Major acquisitions such as this are great for the long-term future of the games availability, but it remains to be seen if it will continue to be free to play indefinitely. Players have also been warned that some of their gameplay records and statistics may be affected by The New York Times acquisition”. 

Discussing trending news items and industry change is an encouraged aspect of studying with us at Glyndwr. Whether that is a booming Gaming jobs marketlooking at the impact of COVID-19 across STEM industries or supporting our students’ research for career paths in Computing or Science – preparing students to work in industry is an integral aspect of our Active Learning Framework.

Browse our Applied Science and Computing programmes on our undergraduates courses page, to see what courses you could study, learn and enjoy here at Wrexham Glyndwr University.


Written by Alice James, Faculty Engagement and Liason Officer at Wrexham Glyndŵr University.