“Did you get the Sunday Crossword clue? Took me awhile but very clever,” reported Deb.

“Omg. What a dumb word!,” complained Lizzy.

“Margie, don’t tell me! I haven’t Wordled yet!,” yelled Holli.

These are the conversations I have these days.

Online word games are all the rage. It seems that everywhere you go, people are talking about what they are playing. Comparing notes.

There must be hundreds of games. Spelling Bee. Wordle. The Crossword. Quordle. Waffle. The list goes on and on.

What is it about word games that make them so addictive? Apparently, word games activate both the logic and language parts of our brains, and reward us with a hit of dopamine even if we don’t win.

In my travels, I find The New York Times Spelling Bee has passionate followers. “Ugh, I only got to Amazing.” “Did you get the paragram?” (Again, someone yells, “Don’t tell me! I’m still working on it!” ).

Every time I’m with friends, out to dinner or just for a walk, it seems that our obsession with these word games is front and center. Everyone has one – or two or three – favorites, and everyone has their own way of doing them. Some jump in first thing in the morning, and some, spend some time here and there throughout the day. Many, yours truly included, know the exact time the new puzzles becomes available, and consciously or unconsciously, pounce. The New York Times Crossword, for example, comes in at 10 p.m.the night before (except for Monday, when The Times throws us a bone and posts it at 6 p.m.). Wordle fans know that if you are up at midnight you get a new game, and The Spelling Bee? Well, I’m betting all readers of this piece who are fans know the answer. 3 a.m.!

And with people of a certain age perhaps having some trouble sleeping through the night, it’s a good bet that, at least some nights, you could be up at 3 a.m. And well, you can’t fall back to sleep anyway, so, it’s phone, glasses, Spelling Bee! I sometimes think I’ve done that so often that my brain is actually trained to wake up around then. I even have one friend who reports that she and her partner, both Spelling Bee mavens, have been known to both wake up at 3 and grab their phones. Dueling iPhones. Lying in bed. Twin glowing lights. But still not sharing the paragram.

I gotta say, all these word games are time consuming. If my phone has a setting to measure how much time I spend on these games, I don’t think I want to know. Personally, I’m addicted to The Spelling Bee, Wordle and The New York Times crossword puzzle, all owned by The New York Times. And I’m declaring that that is my max. Anymore and I might not find time to shower. The other night at dinner, for instance, in a very noisy restaurant with 10 of us around a table, my dinner partner was extolling the virtues of Quordle, Wordle on steroids. Instead of having to find just one word, now you need to find four, working all four grids concurrently. We did one. I could see the allure of it, but no. No! I cannot take on one more.

On the plus side, research says these word games may help improve memory, and stave off dementia, health concerns definitely front and center for BA50’s. So what better reason do we need to dive in?

Just remember to be thoughtful when discussing them. There’s a good chance you’ll hear “Don’t tell me! I haven’t done it yet!”.

BA50s are Word Game Obsessed was last modified: by

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