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Wordle and free games like Wordle that we just can't stop playing

Like Wordle, these games don’t need you to download an app, register or share any information to play. Plus, they are a welcome throwback to what seems like ages ago.

January 30, 2022 / 12:30 PM IST
Josh Wardle developed Wordle for his partner Palak Shah. The browser-based word game was conceived way back in 2013.

Josh Wardle developed Wordle for his partner Palak Shah. The browser-based word game was conceived way back in 2013.

Try googling ‘Wordle’ and you will see Google’s easter egg animate on the top of your screen. Google’s easter egg is the latest recognition of a word game that’s taken the internet by storm. The key word here being ‘Internet’. You don’t need to download an app, register or share any information like your email ID with Wordle.

Josh Wardle (that explains Wordle) never intended for the game to become a global phenomenon. It’s impossible to scroll through your Facebook or Twitter timeline without people bragging about their daily Wordle success. Is started as a game that was developed for his partner – Palak Shah – and him to bond over. In November, he decided to share access to his family WhatsApp group.

From 90 daily players in the first week of November to 300,000 in early January and probably millions now, Wordle has grown beyond a cult phenomenon in the English-speaking world. It has instantly transported us back to the early aughts before the iPhone debuted and Android was a sci-fi term.

As we become more enslaved to our smartphones, browser-based games like Wordle are a welcome throwback to what seems like ages ago. Wordle is not the only ‘smart’ game you can play from your desktop or mobile browser. Check out Wordle and other engaging, free game options this weekend:

(via Wikimedia Commons) (via Wikimedia Commons)


Wordle: Conceived first in 2013, the Wordle inventor and his partner were inspired by the New York Times Spelling Bee and daily crossword. It’s mighty simple and then it isn’t. Players who log on to the Wordle website will be greeted by an empty 5x6 grid. You start by guessing the word of the day – the Internet is full of suggestions and strategies about the ideal first word, and you will start seeing word tiles in three colours. Green denotes the right letter in the right place, a yellow tile indicates the right letter but in the wrong position while greys mean that the letters are not in the word at all. You get six chances to crack the five-letter word. Once you do, you wait till the next day for your next stab at Wordle. It’s the scarcity – Wardle says he was inspired by Spelling Bee, that’s driving anxiety and equally bringing players back each day.

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City guesser: The name is a giveaway. Just head to the website and pick your location or difficulty level. You will start seeing video footage from a particular city or tourist attraction. All you have to do is guess the destination by pointing to the location on the map by zooming in or out. Look for clues like the language on the road signs or the direction of the traffic. At a time when global travel has been disrupted, this is a great game to relive your travel memories or travel vicariously. There’s also Geoguessr where you can guess the location by leaning on the game’s semi-randomised Google Street View location.

Also read: The Real World Within Video Games

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The Wiki game: Unleash the geek in you with this trip through Wikipedia. If you’re one of those folks who keep going back to Wikipedia for trivia and other titbits of information, you should enjoy this time-bound challenge (time limits are randomly set by Wiki). You start the game from a particular Wikipedia page on a specific topic and then race against time to jump through different links to reach your ultimate destination page. The challenge can be as bizarre as starting with ‘Bond Girl’ with the end destination of ‘List countries by GDP (PPP) per capita’. It’s part treasure hunt, part trivia and some smart moves in quick time.

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Quick Draw: Remember those times in the pre-iPhone era when you had to pretend to look busy after 7 pm to impress your boss. There’s a good chance that Solitaire was your ‘go to’ hack. Quick Draw is designed for those moments of extreme boredom, and can be fun if doodling is your thing. You don’t need an Apple pencil for this game, just doodle the prompted object on your screen within 20 seconds and the AI engine will guess what you’ve drawn. While some objects – like a crown, are easy wins, you will need basic drawing skills to handle commands like ‘tractor’. It’s not a random exercise, your doodles become part of a unique data set to help developers train new neural networks. Over 15 million players from across the world have already contributed millions of doodles.

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Backstabbr: Slightly more complex and time-consuming than the other browser-based games on our list, this one’s inspired by the classic board game ‘Diplomacy’ that was launched in the 1950s. Back then this game distinguished itself from other board wargames with its negotiation phases and the absence of dice. Backstabbr is also set in Europe, where each player controls a major power, and its military might. The key objective is for players to wrest control of strategic cities or supply centres on the map. The game moves through two phases – negotiation and movement.

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Ashwin Rajagopalan
first published: Jan 30, 2022 12:20 pm
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