Artle Is the Art-Historical Version of Wordle You Didn’t Know You Needed to Play

The game, designed by the National Gallery of Art, has boosted the institution's web traffic by 40 percent.

Inspired by Wordle, the new daily guessing game Artle challenges users to guess the artist from four images. Courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

If you’re an avid museum-goer who’s been swept up in the recent craze for the word game Wordle, we’ve got exciting news.

This month, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC released a new art-historical, image-based version of the game it calls Artle. And it’s already a hit, the museum reports, driving an increase in web traffic of over 40 percent since the game’s launch.

The game shares a similar format with Wordle: each day, users are shown a new series of four artworks from the museum’s collection, and are given four chances to guess the artist. Scores can be easily shared on social media. 

To date, the museum said it has recorded hundreds of thousands of players from nearly every country in the world. A quarter go on to explore the National Gallery’s collection online, in many cases for the first time, or move on to visit blog and events pages. 

Inspired by Wordle, the new daily guessing game Artle challenges users to guess the artist from four images. Courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

“Our intention was to create an experience that would encourage audiences to learn about art in a fun, unique way,” Steven Garbarino, a senior product manager at the museum, said. “One of the National Gallery’s values is curiosity and continuous learning. What better way to foster curiosity than a guessing game!”

The process of designing the game took Garbarino and his team five weeks and required collaboration from across departments. After hurried market research to gauge public interest, the real challenge was “difficulty testing,” or working out how hard to make the game to keep users challenged but satisfied. Testing is ongoing and the museum still hopes to make improvements. 

“Artle players have told us they have visited the National Gallery after discovering a new artist, and educators have shared that they use our game as a way to interact with students or give as an extra credit assignment,” Garbarino said. “We’ve also found that players aren’t discouraged by a challenge—they are twice as likely to click through to learn more about an artist when they don’t know the answer.”

It’s little wonder that Artle has been a hit, given the runaway success of its precursor. Wordle, originally invented by software engineer Josh Wardle for his partner, proved so popular it was purchased by the New York Times in January for a seven-figure sum. 

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