What is HQ Trivia?



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The Atlantic called the app HQ Trivia the “harbinger of dystopia”, but many, many, many others call it a “really good time”. So, we ask: what is HQ Trivia? And why are people losing all control of bodily functions after winning $1.80?

We investigated (and played…) the app that crashes frequently, shows no respect to the thing we call grammar, and is the game show we can’t seem to ever win. All in the name of research.

Good morning. Here’s a dog playing HQ.

A post shared by Scott Rogowsky (@scottrogowsky) on

The deal, we found, is this: twice a day, the magic that is HQ Trivia streams for all those who want to log in and get their game on. The graphics are bright, potentially developed by an easily distracted eight-year-old, and the proposition is pretty simple.

In each game, the ever-improvising, bad-joke telling host takes the players through 12 multiple choice questions, each question progressively harder than the last. You have an impossibly short 10 seconds in which to answer each question. As you answer correctly, your skin in the game is maintained. As you lose your cool (and your mind) getting an answer wrong, you’re out. Kind of like Darwin’s survival of the fittest thing, except the prize is a share in the small-ish prize pool, split between the last ones standing.

HQties: eat vegetables, not Tide Pods

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This attention-swallowing piece of innovation is the brainchild of the two guys behind the now-defunct short video start-up app Vine, and all those who now play it near religiously hope and pray it doesn’t suffer the same fate as their first child. But with 1 million players per game, the future looks bright with rumours that venture capitalists are lining up around the block.

So, what’s the big deal?

You’d think that a live trivia app would be kind of lame, but no. The host does birthday shout-outs and makes enough Dad jokes to make any actual Dad look like a member of high society. They ad lib when the show hits technically difficulties, which it seems to do with military precision. Live streaming – and all the technical nightmares that go with it – have never been laid so bare. And it’s hilarious.

There are several hosts doing the rounds, including a cameo from the one and only Jimmy Kimmel as well as Bert from Sesame Street, but the front man goes by the name of Scott Rogowsky. He’s got that dorky boy next door charm, lines like “Winner winner, chicken marsala dinner,” and no, you don’t mind waiting while they reboot the system because we will just keep the jokes a coming.


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In the same way you could never really step away from The Price Is Right, it’s addictive in a what-next and if-only kind of way.

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