In response to the leak of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the legal precedent for the right to an abortion in the United States, the New York Times changed today's Wordle answer from “fetus” to a new solution for as many users as possible, according to a statement from the company.
Josh Wardle, the game's creator, had set future answers like this well in advance of the NYT's acquisition of his game or the leak of the Supreme Court's unprecedented decision. The NYT's statement insists that “at New York Times Games, we take our role seriously as a place to entertain and escape, and we want Wordle to remain distinct from the news.”
Many users could still be faced with the original puzzle, however. The new solution will only be present if the user has refreshed their browser tab since the NYT made the change last week, not always a given when many players just keep a tab with the game open.
“Because of the current Wordle technology, it can be difficult to change words that have already been loaded into the game,” the NYT explains. “When we discovered last week that this particular word would be featured today, we switched it for as many solvers as possible.”
The NYT was certainly put in an awkward position by today's puzzle, with a long-feared rollback of a human right in the United States being the last thing anyone wants to think about when loading up their favorite little puzzle game.
I think the company made the right call here, for what it's worth. Similarly to how Blizzard had to change the name of an Overwatch character who was initially named for an allegedly abusive senior employee at the company, I don't think there was another, better option here.
In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision leaking, high-profile developers like Double Fine and Bungie have voiced opposition to the decision and support for the right to an abortion, with Bungie encouraging followers to donate to a selection of pro-choice organizations: