Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The Lasting Value of Word Games

Every night, as soon as the newest Wordle puzzle becomes available, I pause whatever I'm doing to see if I can solve it. For those who aren't familiar with Wordle, it's a word game where you try to figure out the five letter word. It's a combination of logic and lucky guesses: the rules are posted, and they're pretty easy to learn, but the bottom line is you get six chances to figure out the word and solve the puzzle. But unlike many other online games, if you can't solve it, you have to wait another 24 hours for the next one to be posted. 

In a way, I find that comforting.  It prevents becoming obsessive about solving it-- you can't play it over and over because there's just one puzzle a day. I feel the same way about the New York Times Spelling Bee: they post the puzzle once each day, and if you can't solve it, you have to wait for them to post the next one. Spelling Bee is a lot more complicated than Wordle, and unlike Wordle, which is currently free, you have to pay a subscription fee to try your hand at the Spelling Bee. But in both cases, these puzzles are thought-provoking, good for your vocabulary, and an enjoyable way to kill some time for a few minutes.    

I've always loved word games. As a kid, I often played Scrabble with my mother. I don't know if she let me win or if I eventually became good at it, but I recall how excited I was when I got a good score-- it made me feel really grown up. I liked crossword puzzles too-- in fact, if a puzzle involved seeking out words, it was generally something I enjoyed.

These days, another reason word games are important to me is they keep me mentally sharp. At 75, I want to make sure I can retrieve words from my memory the way I did when I was younger, or use logic to figure out a word from the clues I've been given. But there's no right age to enjoy word games-- they're good for kids, and they're good for us grown-ups.

I don't know if today's kids play words games as much as we did back when I was growing up. Most of the kids I know spend more time staring at screens than they do engaging in solving puzzles. But I do hope parents are introducing kids to the joy of words, and the many opportunities puzzles can provide to enhance vocabulary while just having fun.

During the pandemic, when so many of us were stuck indoors, it was a nice escape to work on a crossword puzzle or try to solve a word search. But even now that we're back outside, going to work and getting into our daily routines again, I still put aside a few minutes each day to sit in my office and relax with a word game. It's educational, it's a challenge, and it's entertaining. So, if you follow me on social media, perhaps we can compete at Wordle and compare scores with each other. After all, playing word games is a lot more fun than arguing about politics-- and it's a lot better for your mental health!     


  1. Solid advice! Thanks Donna Halper!!!

  2. Strong advice Donna Halper! I completely agree :)

  3. The Forward is even running a Yiddish version of Wordle!