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Editorial Cartoon: Alabama and IVF
Editorial Cartoon: Alabama and IVF
Published March 1, 2024

Michaelson: Wordle — The Addictive Five-Letter Guessing Game.

Why has everyone been obsessed with Wordle? Will the New York Times buying Wordle change anything?

So far, Wordle has proven itself to be one of the most popular games of 2022. As simple as it is, people cannot get over how addictive the game is. Players have six daily guesses to narrow down letters and attempt to guess a five-letter word in as few turns as possible. Every single day, players post their scores to social media, and friends and family cannot help but join in on the fun and compete against each other.

For that very reason, the game has blown up tremendously since its release. On Nov. 1, 2021, the game had 90 users. However, when the New York Times purchased the popular game for at least a million dollars at the end of January, the game had acquired millions of daily users.

The New York Times hopped on this trend and quickly began integrating Wordle into their “games subscription.” While obviously known for its prominent journalistic prowess, the publication has continued to develop and attempt to expand its role beyond journalism, introducing games and cooking subscriptions to their services.

The Times has stated that the game will “initially remain free” for players, implying that the game will eventually be fully integrated into their games subscription. With the dedicated player-base that this game holds, the publication is destined to increase its subscriber count. However, I imagine that when the game fully integrates as a subscription-based product, the player count will fall off drastically for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, like all trends, the hype surrounding Wordle will eventually die. We saw this through the boom of the popular mobile game “Among Us” in the middle of 2020. The game reigned over the internet for months before it fell off — and it fell off hard. Trends only last for so long before people get bored and become attached to “the next big thing.”

Secondly, considering Wordle is going to become a “paid game,” I expect the game’s decline to happen even quicker. The entire appeal of the game comes from the fact that anyone can participate for free. I understand the Times’ efforts to expand their subscription-base and content matter, but I fear that these efforts will contribute to the devaluation of journalism, and media in general, in our modern society.

If one of the most prominent and influential sources of American journalism is succumbing to capitalistic ideals to increase profits, then what has journalism become?

I fear that capitalism will demolish our perception of modern-day journalism. If that were to happen, we would lose all accountability and easy access to factual information.

I understand the pressures of consumerism in our society. In order to remain independent, journalism-based companies need to maintain a competitive income to ensure their journalists, staff and companies prosperity. However, as time goes on, it becomes more apparent that we are straying from the concept of authentic journalism: to serve as a watchdog for the people. Slowly, watchdog journalism and accountability is being overrun by pop-culture and other forms of media that may seem more profitable.

For me, it was odd to hear that The New York Times has begun to shift their efforts away from what they have always been known for, and arguably, been the best at. Could Wordle, a silly guessing game, be a sign of what is to come for journalism in the future?

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