If you start your day by plugging five-letter words into a grid and waiting for green, gray and yellow boxes to pop up, you’re not alone. Wordle, the free viral word game, has hooked millions of users, each trying to guess the daily word and then often sharing their results on social media.
Kelli Dunlap, a clinical psychologist and adjunct professor in the American University Game Lab, isn’t surprised that Wordle became a global phenomenon, noting that the game’s digital format and “one and done” element allow you to play anywhere. Posting results on social media creates a feeling of connectedness, and some studies have found that word games can improve memory and cognition for older adults.
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“Puzzles feel like productive play,” Dunlap says. “One of the coolest things about word games is that anyone can do them.”