Fun little profile of Josh Wardle, creator of the web-based word game Wordle, by Daniel Victor for The New York Times:

“I think people kind of appreciate that there’s this thing online that’s just fun,” Mr. Wardle said in an interview on Monday. “It’s not trying to do anything shady with your data or your eyeballs. It’s just a game that’s fun.” [...]

The breakthrough, he said, was limiting players to one game per day. That enforced a sense of scarcity, which he said was partially inspired by the Spelling Bee, which leaves people wanting more, he said. [...]

While other games send notifications to your phone hoping you’ll come back throughout the day, Wordle doesn’t want an intense relationship. “It’s something that encourages you to spend three minutes a day,” he said. “And that’s it. Like, it doesn’t want any more of your time than that.”

I’ve been playing Wordle most days for the past month. It’s nice to see it explode in popularity. It’s fun and simple, and the fact that you can do one and only one puzzle per day is a huge part of the charm. It’s a habit, not an addiction, and feels like a wee bit of mental calisthenics to start the day. (I’ve long done the NYT’s “Mini” crossword for the same reason.)

Wednesday, 5 January 2022