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Isabella Bond 💫
Isabella Bond 💫

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Before Wordle...

If you've been on the internet recently, you've probably come across Wordle. If you haven't, you should definitely check out this highly addictive internet word game where you try to guess a 5-letter word using color-based clues. Each day, you will get six tries to guess a new word. After submitting a guess, the letters of your guess will turn different colors. Green letters indicate a correct letter in the correct spot, yellow letters indicate a correct letter in an incorrect spot, and grey letters indicate a letter that is not in the word at all.

Wordle 235 4/6

When I first came across this wildly fun word game, something about it felt familiar, and for a good reason. I created my own version of Wordle about 5 years ago.

Back in high school, everyone would play what we called "The 5 Letter Word Game" on our school whiteboards. Two players or teams would each come up with their own 5-letter word and keep it a secret. Then, just like Wordle, each team would take turns trying to guess the word. After each guess, the opposing player or team would circle or X out letters that they got right or got wrong respectively with different colored circles corresponding to correct placement or not.

Seems pretty familiar right? Well, for the final project for one of the first programming classes I ever took, two friends and I decided to digitize the game. Students could log on to the school computers and connect with their friends using their IP address to play. The online interface made it so that we didn't have to spend time thinking about X-ing out and circling the right letters, the game did it for us, so we could play much faster. To say it was popular would be an understatement. My classmates and I played until we graduated. It was my first truly successful programming project and one of the reasons why I started believing in the idea that I could be a software engineer one day.

This was long before I knew about software hosting on websites such as Github, so although I had a copy of the repository holding the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the creation of the 5-Letter Word Game on my laptop for many years, somewhere along the way I lost it. The only remnants I have of the game is a clipping from a paper I wrote about the project.


A few days ago it was announced that Wordle, which began as a Covid side project, was purchased by The New York Times for a price "in the low seven figures." I couldn't help but laugh to myself that perhaps in another universe, my 5-Letter Word Game could've taken off just like that. Moral of the story: You're never too young or too inexperienced to create something awesome. All you need is a great idea, and you never might have the next Wordle on your hands.

Discussion (1)

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Neha Maity

Great lesson! Nice to see a fellow Gator on this platform :)