Wordle: why the inventor of the fiendishly addictive online game doesn’t want your money

Name: Wordle.

Age: Nearly three months old.

Appearance: Thirty empty boxes in six rows; the rest is up to you.

What am I supposed to do? Guess the word.

What word? That’s for you to find out.

Is this some kind of game? Yes, and it’s been hugely popular since just before Christmas. More than 300,000 people play it daily, and even more are talking about it. Which is incredible, given that it only launched in mid-October.

How does it work? You take a wild stab at guessing a five-letter word by entering characters in boxes. Colour-coding shows you which letters you have got right, which you got wrong and which are right but in the wrong position. Then you guess again.

Sounds simple. I mean, eventually I’m going to figure it out. Not necessarily – if you can’t get it in six tries, you lose.

I’ll just start again. Sorry – only one word, and one go, per day.

But I want to play now! You’ll just have to wait.

And who invented this madness? Reddit software engineer Josh Wardle.

Wardle made Wordle? He created it for his partner, who likes word games.

That’s nice. Then he put it online. It was slow to take off initially, but in December, Wardle tweaked the game to allow players to share their results (but not the answer) on social media. After that, it exploded.

Is that what those mysterious coloured boxes I keep seeing on Twitter are? Yes – they create a certain amount of intrigue.

If it’s so addictive, why isn’t he letting people play it all day? Limited availability is part of the attraction. “It’s something that encourages you to spend three minutes a day,” Wardle told the New York Times. “And that’s it. Like, it doesn’t want any more of your time than that.”

While I applaud the success of this daily brain exercise, I think he might have a hard time monetising it. He doesn’t want to.

Sorry, I’m not sure I understand. “It’s not trying to do anything shady with your data or your eyeballs,” says Wardle. “It’s just a game that’s fun.”

Yeah, still don’t get it. Wordle is Wardle’s gift to the world. End of story.

I smell a conspiracy. Of course you do.

Do say: “That’s fine, I didn’t want another go anyway.”

Don’t say: “I’ve got an idea for a new game – it’s like Wordle, but with loads of ads.”