Have Wordle and BeReal introduced a new era of social behavior?
Social and gaming have gone together since… well… forever. The game Go, which is known as the world's oldest board game, is estimated to have originated in China 4,000 years ago. Playing games with each other is part of the human condition–whether that’s Red Rover, Go Fish, or Tag as a kid, Cards Against Humanity with friends as an adult, Call of Duty with your bros on X-Box, or now Roblox and Fortnite with your buds in the metaverse.
But there’s a market for solo games, too. Jigsaw puzzles, Solitaire, Angry Birds, or Candy Crush all give our brains an outlet for self-play — and some even simulate a second player to give you that social edge or feature a leaderboard to see how you and others rank.
Word games have been consistently popular, and they’re old, too! Crosswords date back to the 1900s. Scrabble was created in 1931. Spelling bees date back to 1925. Even Words With Friends is 13 years old. Words are so great.
In January, I wrote about a new self-play game called Wordle that had a different hook, you shared your score via dark social (e.g., chat apps) or public social (e.g., Twitter) in an anonymized fashion…
Since then, The New York Times purchased the game for seven figures, they started changing the words not to conflict with cultural conversations, and there have been countless knock-offs and spin-offs.
And people are cheating…
…It would certainly appear that a growing number of people have been looking online for answers to the popular five-letter word guessing game — possibly to avoid putting a stop to a winning streak.
According to a recent study by Wordfinderx, a reference website for word games like Wordle and Scrabble, which used Google Trends data to determine that Google searches for the answer to Wordle’s daily puzzle have nearly tripled ever since The New York Times acquired Wordle in January.
And there’s starting to be some really interesting research into how users beyond young people are playing–in a sustained way and how World brought us together…
Wordle, in fact, has ridden that low barrier to entry to such ubiquity that even people’s reasons for not playing are ripe for conversation. …
Wordle’s broad appeal presents an opportunity for the gaming industry writ large — especially now that mobile phones have overtaken computers and consoles as the fastest-growing gaming platforms. Pearce says many game designers are now tapping into an older demographic that the industry has long overlooked….
De Schutter, who has collaborated with AARP to research older gamers, has thought a lot about how he and other game designers can incorporate learnings about that group. “When I started interviewing 50-plus-year-olds, I found that many are looking for more than the cheap thrills that you often find with games,” he says. “They wanted games that were eudaimonic” — a Greek term for a type of contentment that’s achieved through having a meaningful purpose.
If you want to go deep on that note about eudaimonic happiness, it’s super interesting to think about the consumer movement from pleasure and short-term happiness toward achievement and deeper meaning and sustainable happiness in social media and how we entertain and engage ourselves.
Anecdotally, I’ve been surprised how much of my network is still playing and sharing their Wordle scores each day — myself included!
What’s next? BeReal is being called “the Wordle of Social Apps,” especially with how you create content for a few people in dark social and then can share them on public social if you choose. We should expect a run of personal engagement —> to dark and public social features like this in the coming months.
🐦 Some Good Socials
🔥 Quick Hits
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An AI is training counselors to deal with teens in crisis. What a super use of this technology.
Why glTF is the JPEG for the metaverse and digital twins. How do you pronounce it?
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Why crypto is so annoying… “Most Americans have known the basics of how money works from a young age. Paper bills and coins are tangible and easy to see being exchanged for goods. The concept of a digital currency can be harder to grasp, and it's intimidating, as if you need to be tech-savvy to understand it, 19-year-old cryptocurrency influencer Miss Teen Crypto told me… In reality we use tech everyday that we don't really understand, such as using a debit card — we don't know the technicalities behind the transaction but we know that it works… This will be the same with cryptocurrency sooner rather than later."
See you on the internet!