Last October there were just around 90 or so people playing Wordle, the web-based word game that was developed by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle. It quickly grew in popularity as users began to share their results on Twitter and other social platforms. That attracted interest from The New York Times Company, which purchased the game in January 2022 for an undisclosed seven-figure sum.
Soon after came the wave of clones.
While many lack the originality of the original Wordle, one that now stands out is also seeing its own meteoric rise. Wordle, a numerical-based viral puzzle game, was created by British data scientist Richard Mann after his 14-year-old daughter said she wished there was a version of Wordle for “math nerds.”
The game’s development has also been a true family affair. Daughter Imogen created the design of the logo and the creative for the visual layout, while Mann’s 17-year-old son Alex came up with the 17,000+ mathematical variants and even wrote the script for calculations.
The concept is similar to Wordle, but instead of guessing letters, players must determine a square’s number based on mathematical symbols and by solving a basic equation. It isn’t just mathematicians that have become addicted to Nerdle either. The game presents players with a challenge to solve a different 8-digit calculation every day – which can be as simple as 10+20=30, while some of the equations can also be much trickier.
Within just three weeks of going live, the game had more than a million users from some 230 countries.
Much like Wordle, this math app has also connected with social media users, and fans are now sharing their daily tries, with many working hard to maintain a perfect streak.
“Nerdle scores can be shared on social media in the same way Wordle scores can be shared. In fact, this is actively encouraged when you finish a game. You can share your score on Twitter, Facebook and other apps with a couple of clicks,” explained Richard Mann via an email.
“The information that gets shared is text rather than an image, but it includes emojis to encode the game that you’ve just played. So instead of telling your friends that you ‘solved it in 5,’ this becomes much more engaging and visual. Also, it gives out a lot of information about how you played, without actually spoiling that day’s game for everyone else. The eye-catching posts certainly helped encourage early viral pick-up in the early days,” he added. “Our most important social channels were Twitter and Facebook, as that’s where most of the public sharing was happening. Other social media platforms helped (we know of many private Nerdle leagues on WhatsApp) and helped with word-of-mouth, but obviously the private sharing was less critical for driving public awareness.”
Whether this game becomes as popular as the daily crossword puzzle, or if it is just the latest flash-in-the-pan, has yet to be seen. But the fact that it has connected with an audience so quickly remains impressive.
“Watching Nerdle grow has been completely addictive,” said Mann. “We love seeing the real-time analytics move around the world with peaks at breakfast-time and lunch-time. We also love seeing Nerdle played in school. But our favorite is hearing from someone that we’ve helped realize that they aren’t so bad at math after all!”
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