I come from a long line of solitaire game players. On one side of family, during certain periods of history, a casual bystander could describe it as a near religious pursuit. I vividly remember my grandmother nearly blind, playing multiple iterations of the game over an afternoon and then putting down her cards and playing some audio word game aloud. I always marveled at her vibrant mind and when I used to feel lonely before the pandemic when I used to live on planes, I spent a lot of time in these memories while playing pop culture crossword puzzles on my phone, feeling connected to her presence, long gone from Earth.
I enjoyed floating in the clouds immersed in language often listening to mixes without lyrics thinking of new ones. In the late 00s when I left music and worked in travel, I was friends with many game designers and while so many of them were into crafting multi layered narrative games, I was always intrigued by the ones who designed very simple games, iterations of my grandmother’s endless versions of solitaire or spoken word puzzles. At the time they were called “casual” games but we also called them “waiting games” because they were often played by people waiting – waiting for transportation, waiting for meetings to start, waiting bedsides by people who were sick. Many of us have had romances with these games or addictions or both. My own fascination has remained dormant until Sunday when I discovered Wordle. Wordle is the ultimate waiting game for 2022 as we wait for the pandemic to end.
And what I love about Wordle is its simplicity and its common moment. Everyone is playing the same word every day. Each day surviving through the answer is like ensuring you never utter the word, “Voldemort” aloud. It is a shared moment of incremental joy every single day. Maybe the pandemic will never quite end, but we will learn to share single words together one by one.
And while I’m not a very talented player, I really like the possibilities of the art of the game – and taking that art and effecting it. So that the collective word of the day takes on a new visual meaning. And tonight I thought how about pairing it with a song that unlocks that meaning.
Working across sound and language, I’m reminded of my grandmother, talking aloud but often to herself, lost in the imagination of words in her mind, awaiting confirmation of the answer that she know exists nearby.