It’s 8 p.m. on a weeknight and the push alert comes through to tens of thousands of iPhones. “Hello players. Do you want to play a game? HQ is live.”
“HQ Trivia” is an idea so well-executed, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t happened before now. It’s a live trivia game that airs twice a day at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. central and is hosted by an actual human being (most of the time it’s the energetic and mostly funny Scott Rogowsky). Players compete for a set amount of money, sometimes $150, sometimes as much as $2,000. Through a series of 15 questions, players are eliminated for wrong answers. When the game is over, winners split the pot. The closest thing I’ve seen to it was “1 vs. 100,” a much-missed virtual game show that ran on Xbox Live years ago.
The multiple-choice questions range from very easy (”Which of these U.S. states is west of the Mississippi River?”) to much more difficult questions about art history and science. You can see who won the game when the session is over and how much they won. If you get eliminated early, you can still watch and possibly earn a gift-box lifeline to save you from elimination in a future game.
It’s the live aspect of the app, which was created by the makers of “Vine,” that is most exciting and most problematic. You can see how many people missed each question in near-real time as well as the host’s shoutouts to players in the game and reactions to how the game is playing out. And a scrolling live chat reminds you that people do not enjoy losing at trivia. However, as “HQ Trivia” has grown from a few thousand players to more than 35,000 per game in the last few weeks since its late-August launch, games are sometimes plagued by video glitches, delays or other technical difficulties. And you can only play it twice a day; there are no replays or practice games if you miss those times.
When it’s working and you’re available to play it, though, “HQ Live” is a slick, thrilling and fun game to share with friends.
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