Word genius should make an old-fashioned dating app
Wordle is almost an emblem for a post-pandemic world, which is why its principles could so well support a return to romance after lockdowns and self-isolation, writes Angela Mollard.
Of course you are. Anyone with four brain cells and four minutes of free time is engaged in the clever little game that can be played alone, provides instant gratification, and leaves you with a warm glow of satisfaction.
If you weren’t playing it, you clearly will be by now, but if you’ll forgive my cheeky little innuendo, Wordle is much more than a hint of self-enjoyment. Indeed, the online game that’s a cross between Hangman and Mastermind is both so smooth and reliable, yet so charming and compelling, it’s the perfect template for a dating app.
As eager as I am to embark on an analysis of how we can apply the concepts of a humble guessing game to love, I better go back and inform all cave dwellers of this that it really is.
For the uninitiated, Wordle asks players to guess a five-letter secret word in six attempts, offering feedback with each guess. Some letters will be correct and in the right place; others will be in the word but in the wrong place.
A new puzzle is released every day, and the website gives you the opportunity to share your results – without giving out the answer – with your social media followers.
It’s easier than a crossword, more fulfilling than Sudoku and it’s very “now”.
As one fan tweeted, “Wordle is Omicron’s sourdough starter.”
The truth is, Wordle is much more democratic and achievable than making posh bread. Its backstory could be made into a Hugh Grant movie.
Basically Josh Wardle, a Welsh farmer’s son designed this as a gift for his girlfriend because she loves puzzles. He uploaded it to his family’s WhatsApp group and found they all liked it too, so he released it to the world last October.
On November 1, only 90 people were playing the game; three months later it became a worldwide sensation and The New York Times bought it for seven figures.
“I would be lying if I said it wasn’t overwhelming,” he says.
“After all, I’m just one person and it’s important to me that as Wordle grows, it continues to provide a great experience for everyone.”
Aw, isn’t he adorable (I googled him and the photo of him with his girlfriend Palak Shah shows them smiling while wearing bike helmets).
I can’t believe a top investor didn’t offer the humble software engineer the opportunity to build a dating app, because Wordle is so much more than just a game. Rather, it’s A mood.
In fact, Wordle is almost an emblem for a post-pandemic world, which is why his principles could so well support a return to romance after lockdowns and self-isolation.
Although my use of dating apps was short-lived, friends tell me it’s worse than ever with “ghosting” and “fake nogomy” coupled with increasingly toxic behaviors such as “wokefishing” – the practice of pretending that you have more progressive views to attract potential mates.
Granted, it’s just a game, but Wordle has none of that duplicity. It is authentic and transparent. Not only is it free (well, for now), but it’s presented on a simple website and not a stylized app and there are no ads, insignificant notifications, novelty screens or money requests.
As well as being the language equivalent of a cup of tea, Wordle has all the old-school elegance of a pen-and-paper puzzle. It’s like a little meditation that can be slotted into even the busiest schedule, offering a touch of happiness amid the low-level anxiety that permeates our days of Covid dodging.
It invites you to be present and playful, focusing on one task at a time. If you applied its concepts to a dating app, you’d likely limit the number of simultaneous matches, insist on responses within a respectful deadline, and prevent future daters from ambushing each other by limiting the number of daily interactions.
Much like Wordle, he is said to have an old-school touch. Users may be able to upload handwritten notes or send each other favorite music tracks.
While not suggesting a return to court and tea around the pianoforte, there is clearly a pandemic-induced desire for something softer and more authentic to soften the culture of soulless, transactional connection.
If Wordle is the antidote to aggressive RAT stockpiling, toilet paper hoarding, and Netflix frenzy, it’s also egalitarian and contained, offering just one game a day to everyone, regardless of status.
Unlike most dating apps, it doesn’t offer any premium features or upgrades. Instead, like the water cooler talk that once held office life together, it offers a moment, a connection where we’ve been disconnected for so long.
Wordle was always going to be the creation of a guy who grew up in a village called Llanddewi Rhydderch and moved to the United States, not because he wanted to be a big fish in Silicon Valley, but because he loves it. ‘Ultimate Frisbee.
As his father says, “I don’t think he likes the attention very much.”
Still, before Wordle fades into oblivion, let’s hope he turns his attention to the puzzle that is love.
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