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Maybe you’ve been asked by a friend or relative (or even a stranger) lately: “do you play Wordle?” — and you’re immediately reminded to try and guess the five-letter word of the day. Wordle, the online word-guessing game, has become a true global phenomenon.
Whether you have a 100-day streak or you’ve watched your teenager compete with their friends on who guessed the right word is fewer tries, you may be wondering why our brains are drawn to these kinds of puzzle games. Dr. Karl Kasischke, AdventHealth Tampa neurologist, explains the science behind our attraction to games like Wordle.
It’s Just the Way We’re Wired
“We are naturally curious,” says Dr. Kasischke, “we like to prove ourselves and compete with those around us.”
Puzzle games, like Wordle, motivate the mind and challenge natural human curiosity. “For our survival, it is absolutely important that we pick the right strategy and be consistent and rigid while being creative and explorative,” explains Dr. Kasischke, “it is that mix between conservative learned behavior and being creative and explorative that makes us grow.”
It Builds a Sense of Anticipation
Wordle updates the mystery world just once a day, allowing the sense of anticipation to build as you wait for the word to refresh the next morning.
“Anticipation stimulates dopamine production in your brain, which allows you to feel happy and excited,” says Dr. Kasischke. As you wait for the game to generate a new word, you get a new dose of dopamine-happiness rushing through your system.
“While it’s not possible to get addicted to dopamine since it naturally occurs in our bodies, it is possible to become addicted to any activity that increases our dopamine levels — in this case, Wordle.”
It Creates a Sense of Belonging
Humans are social creatures, and we long to belong and be accepted in groups around us.
“The ability to share your results — on social media or via text — and see how quickly your friends and family guessed the daily word creates a sense of community and belonging,” says Dr. Kasischke.
If you haven’t already, take a few minutes to join the fun, exercise your brain and guess the Wordle word of the day.
About Dr. Kasischke
Karl Kasischke, MD, is a board-certified neurologist with a 20-year track record as a successful clinical neurologist and neuroscientist. He has unique training in neurology, vascular neurology and neuroscience from top universities and hospitals in the United States and Germany. Dr. Kasischke specializes in the management of rare medical conditions that lead to stroke and brain disorders, post-stroke epilepsy, and vascular disorders. He is also fluent in both English and German.