Fans of a popular word game were left scratching their heads after its new owner started censoring common words less than two weeks after the buyout.
Wordle, a 5-letter word guessing game, was introduced by software engineer Josh Wardle last October.
Originally created as a daily puzzle for his partner, according to the New York Times, a simple website was launched and soon gained a major following. Within months, the simple website had hundreds of thousands of daily visitors.
Players were instantly hooked with a simple scheme: There is one 5-letter word selected in secret every day. To reach the term, players are given six attempts. Letters in the guesses are highlighted gray, yellow and green corresponding to their inclusion and spacing in the answer.
The game’s success triggered a flurry of attention, and eventually the eyes of eager investors.
Just months after its launch, Wordle’s purchase was finalized by The New York Times, which would integrate it alongside the publication’s other online entertainment content.
This seemed like good news for players, who now had a dedicated team to run their game instead of a lone programmer.
With this professional editorial oversight came a radical change, however.
The Times began censoring the puzzle’s word bank less than two weeks after buying the game.
Some of the banned 5-letter words are staples universally offensive to woke audiences, mostly racist slurs and derogatory curse words, while others are a little more perplexing. The changes were first noted by tech site BoingBoing late last week, just eleven days after the game’s buyout.
“Slave” and “lynch” are no longer accepted by the game’s word bank. Players attempting to enter these or other banned words will be blocked from doing so.
The progressive revision also confusingly removes the seemingly harmless “fibre,” “agora” and “pupal.”
Criticism of the changes was swift as fans rushed to knock the Times for removing common words.
The New York Times is not letting you try words in Wordle that might be triggering: “slave,” “lynch,” etc. Which means the New York Times is protecting you from using words you’ve already thought about and typed, and that only you would see. pic.twitter.com/BcrxvMWumY
— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) February 15, 2022
Baffling that the NY Times has banned people from guessing words like “slave” on Wordle in case it causes offence (to who?) Fair enough not to have it as an answer, if they must, but to erase it as a valid word is a touch thoughtcrimey. I’ll stick to the Ancient Greek Wordle
— Patrick Kidd (@patrick_kidd) February 16, 2022
So far, it seems the purge has been limited to a select few terms and words that the Times finds esoterically offensive.
While there is concern that the game will be progressively changed to continue conforming to a woke standard, the still-large player base shows that the editorial team in charge has not shunned many fans just yet.
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