The “Wordle” phenomenon tries its luck in French-speaking lands


A little online pun is driving English speakers crazy. Its French equivalent, based on the ex-game show “Motus”, is well on its way to spreading the fire.

The daily schedule of “Sutom”, the French equivalent of “Wordle”.


Five letters, six essays, and only one word to discover per day: the formula of “Wordle” is extremely simple but, in recent weeks, this online game has stirred social networks in the United States. An equivalent in French, largely inspired by the rules of the former game show “Motus” is well on its way to spreading the fire in the French-speaking world.

“It makes you addicted”, confides to AFP Susan Drubin, an American daily player of Wordle. “It’s great, it only takes you a few minutes, and it’s a nice little distraction,” adds the 65-year-old retiree who lives in Maryland, on the American east coast. According to the “New York Times”, on November 1, 90 people tried to find the word of the day. Two months later, on January 2, they were over 300,000.

The principle is childish: it is a question of guessing the famous word of five letters, in six tries maximum. Each letter guessed in its right place appears in green, a good letter misplaced in yellow. For everyone, the same word to find every day, and in case of failure to have to wait for the next day. After starting playing it a few weeks ago, Susan Drubin has joined the thousands of players who share their daily scores on social media with the hashtag #Wordle, and six rows of five colored rectangles showing how many tries they are taking. have elucidated the riddle.

Without ads

Part of what is special about Wordle is that it was designed by a computer engineer named Josh Wardle, not to be sold to the general public, but simply as a means of entertainment. This Briton, living in New York, has thus decided not to monetize the game.

“People are enjoying this stuff online that’s just fun,” Josh Wardle told The New York Times. Wordle “doesn’t try to do anything fishy with your personal data.” No advertising appears on the site, but some ersatz have already taken to wanting to copy the principle, and to make money from it. The original game can be found at:

For Mikael Jakobsson, research coordinator at GameLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Wordle should be classified in the category of “hobby” games. Games with simple mechanics, “when you are waiting for a friend or (…) when you are waiting for your bus,” the researcher told AFP.

Show off online

According to him, the success of the game can be explained in part by the ease of sharing, on social networks or by word of mouth. After solving the riddle “you feel very proud (…), you have this little share button right here. So you can show off a little bit, which we tend to like to do, ”he explains.

Rachel Kowert, psychologist specializing in video games, abounds and evokes the theory of social comparison: everyone wants to evaluate themselves in relation to others. The researcher also believes that being “limited to one game per day gives you a sense of psychological scarcity.” “It makes you want to come back and play day after day,” she told AFP.

Another advantage of the game is that it is accessible to everyone – as long as you master English… Given the meteoric popularity of Wordle, it was only a matter of time before it was adapted to other languages.

Variant in French since Saturday

It has been done since Saturday in French, with a variant called “Sutom”, anagram of the late France Televisions “Motus” TV game, of which it partly uses the codes. On, the visitor must, like Wordle, guess a word of the day in just six tries. But Jonathan Magano, who adapted Wordle into Sutom, explains to AFP that he did not want to take up all the peculiarities of his English-speaking counterpart.

This 30-year-old computer engineer developed Sutom in a single day, using words longer than five letters because, “in Motus, still, we were a level above.” After only four days of existence, the sauce is already starting to take hold for Sutom.

One of Jonathan Magano’s acquaintances has thus built a tool for him to identify the daily number of players who tweet their results. From 488 tweets on Monday, Sutom has already grown to nearly 1,300 by late Tuesday afternoon. Faced with the influx, “this noon, the waiter was a little face down”, smiles Jonathan Magano.



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