WORDLE – An online word game built for Active Agers

by Jeff Weiss

First it was Pickleball and now it’s Wordle — two activities (the former being physical and the latter being mental) that are experiencing huge growth after gaining initial popularity amongst Active Agers.

Unless you have been on a safari with limited access to the news or internet, or simply have limited interest in such things, odds are pretty high that you have heard of the new online gaming sensation, Wordle.  This highly addictive game was created by Josh Wardle and was recently sold to the New York Times for inclusion in their popular (and profitable) Games section. Within a very short period of time, Wordle has amassed more than 10 million daily users and is experiencing exponential growth as “word” gets out around the globe.

I too have become a daily player, which isn’t too surprising given the fact that I like to play other word-related games including crossword puzzles (especially over a coffee on Sunday morning), Boggle, Scrabble and more recently and throughout the pandemic, the New York Times Spelling Bee.

While there are no (official) stats for who is playing Wordle, we thought it would be interesting to explore participation levels amongst Active Aging adults. To that end, we recently asked our Revolution55 community if they had heard of Wordle and if they were playing it. We found that about half of our Revolutionaries have heard of the game but never played, while 10% were indeed playing on a daily basis. Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, given that there are approximately 80 million Active Agers in the US alone, I’d guestimate that about 8 million of them are playing Wordle and therefore account for a significant portion of the total players to-date!

Given the rather significant number of older players, I started thinking about and researching why Wordle might be so appealing to older adults.  Here’s what I found:

  • The game is fashioned for an audience of one and is easy to learn and play and therefore suitable and accessible to all
  • You can connect with other people/players by sharing your scores
  • You can do it quickly or take your time based on your schedule and your personal preference
  • It is a quick mental challenge that doesn’t get in the way of productivity
  • One day’s failure has little bearing on tomorrow’s success
  • The game engages your “working memory” — the language-related component, the visual-spatial component and the central executive
  • There is a high success rate (of getting the right answer within 6 attempts), however, it is not a guaranteed success rate

That last reason I wanted to highlight is important to Active Agers as it results in a degree of desirable difficulty that is optimal in memory research. In other words, it challenges the individual to the right degree in order to learn best and improve long-term performance.  With so much emphasis being placed on our long-term mental health, it is not surprising that older adults have taken to Wordle as part of their (and my) daily regimen to keep minds active and brains sharp.

Although Wordle is “just a game”, the considerations above can help guide marketers who are trying to reach and engage older adults. If you want to understand the opportunities and potential implications to your business, drop me a line and we can chat.  And good luck with today’s Wordle challenge!

Photo credit: FP Creative / Shutterstock.com

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