This is an Inside Science story.
The first big viral trend of 2022 is here, and it's a colorful word game called Wordle.
Players who visit Wordle's website have six chances to guess a five-letter word, which has been randomly selected from a database. With each try, the game tells you how close your letters are to the "word of the day." If the letters you pick are in the word but in the wrong order, Wordle highlights them in yellow. If the letters are in the word and placed correctly, they get highlighted in green. Gray-highlighted letters means they don't appear in the word of the day.
"It's a good, fun game," said Gizmodo's executive editor Andrew Couts. "It only takes a couple of minutes, and it's something to talk about with your friends."
Wordle was created by New York software engineer Josh Wardle this past fall, but Couts says the game really became popular in late December and early January, and now boasts more than 300,000 daily players.
"It seemed after the holidays, everybody seemed to be playing this game and sharing it on Twitter, sharing it all over social media," says Couts, adding that Wordle's distinct visual style is key to its success.
"It creates kind of a cool little pattern that the game makes it really easy to share on social media…so you can show people how well you did on the word of the day. And I think that's one of the big things that has made this game take off."