The story behind the creation of Wordle is an easy real-life example of the phrase "If he wanted to, he would."
There are few words games on any mobile app store that captivate audiences, though in a short period of time, it appears that Wordle has.
The game is simple: Once a day, players have six tries to guess the letters in a five-letter word — whether you get the word right or wrong, you can only play once a day.
Brooklyn-based software engineer Josh Wardle is the developer behind the game — and the game was initially made for his partner because she loves word games.
Who is Josh Wardle? He's the creator of Place and The Button on Reddit.
While Josh may not be an influencer by any means, his skills as a software engineer have had lasting impacts online. He was the creator behind /r/place, the million-bit canvas collectively colored in by Reddit users, while working for the online forum company. He also was behind The Button, the countdown timer where over the span of two months, more than a million Reddit users pushed the button before the timer reached zero. Both of these were April Fools' Day jokes by the company.
Who is Josh Wardle's partner? He made Wordle for Palak Shah.
During the initial 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, many people found themselves spending a lot of time with their romantic partners or roommates, developing new hobbies to pass the amount of time they suddenly had on their hands.
For Josh and his partner, Palak Shah, they developed a love for word games.
The pair enjoyed working through The New York Times' Spelling Bee and daily crossword puzzles. As time went on, they continued to share that love — and then Josh made it something more.
As a software engineer, he created the game for just the two of them, initially.
"I wanted to come up with a game that she would enjoy,” Josh told The New York Times of his decision to craft the game, which was built off of a prototype he initially created in 2013.
“It’s something that encourages you to spend three minutes a day,” he continued. “And that’s it. Like, it doesn’t want any more of your time than that.”
After the game was kept as just something between the two of them, encouragement from family members convinced Josh to consider making the game widely available, and Palak helped Josh prepare it for the public.
She sifted through a list of all of the five-letter words in the English language, picking out ones she recognized and felt were appropriate for the game. Eventually, she and Josh narrowed the list down to around 2,500 words.
“It’s really sweet,” she told the newspaper of Josh's creation of the app. “This is definitely how Josh shows his love.”
Since the game initially launched on the app store in October 2021, there are now more than 300,000 people who play the game, sharing their daily guesses online with a community of other word lovers.