Last night, I opened the HQ app at 9pm to catch a round of trivia. While there are cash prizes on the line, making money isn’t the only reason why I, and the nearly 20,000 other players who joined me, are obsessed with this app.
HQ is a new app from the makers of Vine. It’s basically a live trivia game show on your phone. Twice a day during the week, at 3pm and 9pm eastern time, you open the app and join players from around the world competing for a cash prize of $250 to be split among the winners. When the game starts, you have ten seconds to answer the question as soon as the host begins speaking, which the app says is not enough time to Google an answer. If you get it right, you move on to the next round. If you’re wrong, you’re out of the game, though you’ll be able to watch along for the rest of the game. There’s twelve rounds of questions, and they range from anything from “Who wrote the The Picture of Dorian Grey?” to “’What’s the Scottish term for a Poet Laureate?” The answers are “Oscar Wilde” and “Makar” by the way.
If you’re the kind of person who loves pub trivia, well, you’re probably already sold. My roommate, who goes to a weekly trivia night, is totally obsessed with HQ, and we play the 9pm game on our couch together. Her coworkers are also very into HQ, to the point that they take a fifteen minute break at 3pm to go into a conference room and play. Not all of those people are trivia nuts. While winning money would be great as well, usually the pot is split across multiple players. At most, you’ll earn $40. HQ has a few other charms, however.
There’s a live chat during the matches, which is definitely fun. Following along when there’s 20,000 people also playing is hard, but in-jokes are starting to crop up over time. There’s also a very punchy countdown song that my roommate and I dance to together. The most fascinating and compelling thing about HQ, however, is Scott. Scott is the host who reads the questions and answers in real time. He also riffs on them awkwardly, trying to fit in a joke while the timer is counting down. It’s very weird, and a little adorable, to watch him struggle to think of a gag about which of these three options is the earliest arcade game, as he did on Monday. You start to watch him go into a black hole of speech, where you know and he knows that he’s just speaking to fill space. “I used to play these all the time. At the arcade. At the Dave & Buster’s. Yeah I’m at Dave & Buster’s. On the reg.” Sure, Scott. Also are you okay? Can I help you?
It’s doubtful that I’ll ever win HQ (Update - 4:13: Actually, I just won), but I also can’t wait to play tonight. It’s like a pub quiz with tens of thousands of strangers. And Scott.
Correction - 3:51: Yeah okay, it’s The Picture Of Dorian Gray and not The Portrait Of Dorian Gray. This is why I don’t normally do trivia.