How Wordle reminded me to slow down
If you are anything like me, you will likely have been obsessed recently with the online game Wordle.
In case you have been living in a cave for the past month, you will likely have seen screenshots of its simple, five letter word layout all over the news and your social media feed.
You solve the game by trying to guess the day’s five letter word by typing your own five letter word, and getting feedback on which letters are correct, and whether they are in the right position.
Spoiler alert, but here is today’s example:
It is totally addictive, and can usually be completed in between 2-5 minutes.
But there is a catch. There is only one word per day. So once you have solved it, you need to wait another 24 hours to play again.
No microtransactions for additional lives.
No advertisements on the site.
Just a simple game by a programmer who wanted to spread some joy.
Initially, I was frustrated that we could only play once a day.
I wanted to play more. And every other game out there is designed to let you play more.
In fact, they often employ sneaky psychological tricks to give you just enough of a dopamine hit to make you want to play just one more round.
The same trick is utilised by apps and websites. Do you ever wonder why apps like Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok and Twitter allow you to scroll up-down or left-right to see more content? The act of swiping creates a dopamine hit of anticipation to see what else will come up, and whether it will be interesting or unexpected.
As a result, almost immediately once Wordle became a hit, copycat clones started jumping up with advertisements that promised unlimited words, so people could play as long as they “wanted”.
But the original developer of Wordle stuck with their once-a-day, no advertising, no microtransaction policy.
People have also become so distracted by technology that they are uncomfortable to be without their phone. Even more shockingly, studies have shown that people would rather experience physical pain than be left without a source of distraction.
So it was unexpected when a hit game like Wordle is designed to actively prevent you from getting addicted.
It is as if the game is telling you to slow down, and put the phone / screen away for a while.
That there are more important things out there to experience in the real world.
And I for one think that is something rare to be respected.
So stop reading this article, put the phone down for a while, and just get lost in your thoughts.