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The Password Game is so absurdly demanding, even its creator hasn’t beaten it

Wordle’s weird uncle is the latest free internet game taking over social media

The Password Game screenshot with a password box. The rule: “At least 50% of your password must be in the Wingdings font.” Image: Neal Agarwal
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

The Password Game will take you on a journey across the internet in the attempt to create a password that meets highly specific requirements. What is today’s Wordle answer? The current phase of the moon? A specific chess move? What do these have in common? You must include the answers in your new password. (And the moon phase must be in the form of an emoji.) Google is your friend in the attempt to meet Neal Agarwal’s increasingly absurd password requirement rules.

Agarwal released The Password Game on his website on Tuesday, where it’s available to play via your browser. Here’s how it works: The game starts on a mostly blank page with an input box: Please choose a password. The only requirement is that it has to be five letters. The next few requirements are recognizable — include a number, an uppercase letter, a special character. And then the instructions stack up, getting increasingly weird and sometimes extremely challenging. The Password Game broke me, for instance, when I had to come up with the best chess move on a given board.

Agarwal told Polygon it took two months to make The Password Game, which he started developing in late April. “The idea itself has been on my bucket list for years, and as password rules on the internet have gotten weirder, I felt like now was a good time to finally make it,” he said in an email.

Agarwal’s initial tweet on Tuesday has racked up more than 11,000 retweets as players brag in the comments about their accomplishments or lament their inadequacies. (I can say this because I am also inadequate, folks — I only got to rule 16.) Some of the rules were suggestions from Twitter, too: Agarwal asked users for help last month. It’s where the Geoguessr rule came from, for instance.

The Password Game got so hard that even Agarwal hasn’t beaten its diabolical rules — he’s only played it up to rule 28. “I love that people are finding ways to beat it. I tried multiple times before giving up,” he said. “I wasn’t really sure if it was even possible when I released it. But if you give the internet a challenge, they will find a way.”

It’s the sort of brilliant game that’s simple on the surface, with lots of secrets stuffed under its layers. Part of the surprise is also in how funny and stupid it is — it’s a comedy set in a user interface. Who knew? Well, The Password Game has had more than a million visits since it was released on Tuesday, Agarwal said, so a lot of people know now. The game’s appeal also invokes the likes of Wordle: It’s the sort of thing that’s made for sharing with friends.

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