The Daily Gamecock

Head to head: Traditional word games versus Wordle

Isabella Paras: Traditional word games reign superior to Wordle

When you Google “word game,” the first result to pop up is a crossword website. Such games like these have reigned as the superior word game — at least until the conception of the notorious Wordle.

Wordle is a fun pastime for a few minutes every day, trying to guess the new word in six tries. However, what do you do when it’s over? Resort to being productive and feeling sad that there aren’t more levels or more complexity to the game. It’s short, simple, but in the worst way. 

Traditional word games were built to pass the time. They welcome your attention, whether you are procrastinating or pining for an intellectual way to spend the next 15 otherwise empty minutes of your time. 

Wordle is a game of luck more than anything, unlike the traditional word game. It is entirely dependent on the words you choose; one person whose starter word is “ouija” may have the advantage over somebody whose starter word is “adieu.” 

Traditional word games are solid and don’t have the luck that comes with the probability of Wordle. The most luck necessary in traditional games may be as simple as the choice of crossword to conquer. 

There is the other defining factor here: choice. 

The beauty of the traditional word game is that there are numerous levels and games to play depending on mood or cognition. The Wordle of the day is random. Its design limits anybody from progressing naturally. There is no control over how many you do. The developers simply decided that you get one ephemeral feeling of joy a day. The beauty of a crossword or traditional game is that one can do as many or as few as you could possibly desire.

Concerning unfamiliar words, Wordle is bound to become more difficult as time goes on as the amount of “easy” five-letter words dwindle. Yes, you may be thinking that someone may just be bad with words. My response is: “crwth."

Most probably haven't even heard about that musical instrument before. Your handpicked vowel-filled starter word won’t be effective there. Wordle fails because it is destined to evolve to be more obscure. Eventually, it will lose traction and die off, slow and painfully. 

"Traditional word games specifically are trying to build one's vocabulary ... whereas things like Wordle, I'm memorizing words I will never use, like soare and thilk, which I never use day-to-day life," Jacob Schnell, a fourth-year music education student, said. "Whereas the New York Times I can actually start building my vocabulary with actual words, so that's cool."

Original word games are timeless. They aren’t restricted by something as constraining as a simple six tries with ambiguity in the letter placement. Wordle is a good mind tease, but cannot be considered an adequate word game. 

Richie Holmberg: Head to Head: Wordle, five letters of fun

Stacks of green, yellow and grey emoji boxes dominated my Twitter feed in the early part of the year. I soon discovered that these pictograms were the scorecards to the best digital word game ever created — Wordle. 

Wordle is a simple game. You have six tries to guess a five-letter word. When you guess a word, letters are highlighted to give you clues: green for the right letter in the right spot, yellow for the right letter in the wrong spot and grey for a letter that isn’t in the word. As the player, you must take these clues into consideration when making your next guess. 

The beauty of this game is in its simplicity and routine addiction — at this time, I have never missed a word. 

It is a game that is easy to play, but hard to play well. Little words like “drink,” “purge,” “there” and “rupee” have caused players to struggle, not because the word itself is hard, but because it can be hard to think of a five-letter word when prompted to do so. The game is easy, but there is satisfaction in finishing the word puzzle in a few attempts, and there is peril when taking your sixth guess. 

“I think the only time I've ever missed a Wordle is when it was like a guessing Wordle, where a number of different consonants could be the first letter of it,” Tori Grenier, a first-year English student, said. 

While the game occasionally forces you into a mindless guessing game where you need to find the correct word that ends in "-ling," the fun of Wordle is in competition. One competes against themself when Wordle shows you a little graph of your scores and where your current score stacks up against your all-time stats. 

Yet, it is not enough to just know one's own Wordle successes and failures. The game is built to share. 

“But the fun of Wordle is, again, that you get to compete against your friends and send it to them,” Grenier said. 

The conclusion of every game of Wordle prompts you to share your score on your social media platforms or in a group chat — as I do. This is why the game is addicting. You get to compare your scores in real-time with your friends’ scores. 

“I like to compete with my friends, I send (my Wordle score) to so many different people,” Grenier said. “So, what really keeps me coming back, is that I can beat them every day.” 

For all of the simplicity of the game, the recent acquisition by the New York Times has left an indelible mark on the game. The updated word list caused some to strife — I had a moment of panic when my girlfriend and I solved puzzle #241 and had different answers. (I firmly believe Americans could have solved the word “agora.”) Nonetheless, the New York Times has updated both the aesthetics of Wordle and the word list. The graphics are minimalist and easily recognizable. 

“(Wordle’s design is) simple, clean,” Grenier said. “I also like that they have like light mode, dark mode. And then also, my dad's colorblind and I just recently taught him how to put it on high contrast mode. And that's helped him so much.” 

Wordle is a humble game. It lacks the frills and pomp of its competitors. Yet, it brings people together unlike other games. Wordle makes words fun. Its social presence brings word games to the masses. And its subtle complexity keeps me coming back for more.