Lewdle is here to turn your Wordle blue

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I love Wordle, a daily, 5-letter word escape that reminds me that digital pursuits can be pure. Until they trip on the pavement, fall into the mud, and emerge as something called Lewdle.

Since the moment I started playing Wordle, I knew it was doomed. How could it remain a once-a-day thing? Surely the UK programmer would hear the clarion call of other blockbuster online trends and flood the zone with dozens of different Wordle variations?

That hasn't happened, but like The Wall in Game of Thrones, the barrier is not as impenetrable as it seems. It's been attacked by app clones, which were quickly removed by Apple -- and now a White Walker Dragon has breached The Wall with something called Lewdle.

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Yes, it is what you think. An other-side-of-the-coin online knock-off that also uses five-letter words. However, they're those five-letter words.

Instead of "Faces" or even "Death," the answers are all naughty terms, words that I refuse to repeat here. Wordle is a five-by-six grid against an all-white background; in keeping with the theme, Lewdle is in dark mode.

Lewdle is the brainchild of Gary Whitta, former PC Gamer Editor in Chief and current highly regarded screenwriter for hits like Rogue One and The Book of Eli. Whitta spent the last couple of days hyping the big reveal as an announcement that would rival Microsoft's Activision Blizzard acquisition.

It does not.

Messing with a good thing

My response to Whitta on Twitter was a simple "Gary." All that was missing was a GIF with a disapproving stare.

I support the creative urge, and I know Lewdle is a sort of tribute to Wordle's meteoric popularity but it's also a raspberry.

The beauty of Wordle is not just its simplicity or its slightly patrician, faintly European flair. The beauty is that we can all share in the joy of the game and discuss with family and friends the day's word result (assuming you all got it). It's just the kind of thing we need right now to knit together our fractured society. Those that can play Wordle together (okay, really apart) can work together, live together, get along.

Lewdle results are not ones I could easily share. Plus, I don't want to play a game where I have to spend five to ten minutes crawling through dozens of illicit five-word permutations to get to the dirty (read lewd) result.

I know, it's all bawdy fun, but why does it have to ride on the back (oh, why did I say that?) of Wordle's fame?

Actually, I know why. We are all slaves to a trend, and Whitta, for all his success, is no different than you or I. Wordle is more than a simple word game, it's a cultural phenomenon and a meme. Every meme automatically generates more memes, which are inevitably variations on that original theme.

Lewdle is Wordle through the prism of "what if" thought. It's an exercise of more extreme wordplay escapism, pushing a simple puzzle idea to a natural conclusion.

It's Wordle Blue.

By the time you read this, Whitta might have gotten a tersely worded Wordle letter - one I pray features only five-letter words - demanding they tear down Lewdle.

Until then, I don't have to be happy about it, and I don't have to play Lewdle, ever.

Lance Ulanoff
US Editor in Chief

A 35-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.