HQ Trivia is Making People Go Crazy

January 15, 2018 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

It’s 3pm. Do you know what that means?

Obviously, it’s time to whip out your phone and play for $18,000 with HQ Trivia.

The live trivia game app that launched in August of 2017 truly winning over people’s time. Every day, twice a day at 3 and 9 p.m., to be exact (on weekdays that is, on the weekends it only consumes everyone’s time once a day).

People actually go nuts over these live game sessions. After all, if they don’t immediately jump in, then they don’t have a chance at the jackpot.

There’s something about the rush of competing on such a high and visual scale.

It’s truly extraordinary to see people glued to their screens. Yet still, it’s also terrifying.

This is what captured our minutes this week.

Here’s why:

Mass quantities of people are tuning in.

Literally what The Battle for Time is about!

According to the New York Times, as many as half a million people are tuning in to participate in the game. The questions are totally random: from obscure facts to seemingly opinion based queries.

The monetary prize ranges from session to session and can get into the multiple thousands, but several people can win at a time. Meaning sometimes after it’s all split up you’re walking away with a few dollars.

And still. People. Are. Glued. To. Their. Screens.

There’s only 10-seconds per question, meaning these huge audiences barely feel how long their drawn into each session as they feel they’re constantly racing against the clock.

What’s great about this huge audience other than looking good on top app lists?

The fact that founders Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll (Vine creators) are looking better and better to investors who see nothing but extra eyeballs to tap into.

And with its recent Android launch, you can bet that more certainly is merrier.

Still, the app is glitchy as all hell.

The reviews sound like a broken record: “love the game, but the lag is awful.”

Lagging. Spinning loading wheels. Gamers getting kicked out of the game. Sessions being rescheduled.

It’s truthfully not a great user experience.

But still, people are glued to their devices waiting for the next push notification to appear that a new session is live. Even when people get booted from a game, they still want to try and get back in.

Is it the adrenaline rush of competition? “The Darwinian aspect” – of seeing others fail while you succeed – as the New York Times so cleverly pointed out?

We really don’t know why people keep coming back despite the issues, but somehow this game can do no wrong.

Did anyone else see the video of the girl crying after winning a whopping $11?

In that sense, it’s completely changing what a game show is.

It’s a game show in your palm. It’s a game show without the auditions, contracts or screening.

Anyone and everyone has access. It’s not unattainable, it’s right there in your app store.

What other game show, a la Jeopardy!, can claim to have that same sort of aspect? Just as a TV game show would encourage a family to sit down at a specific time together and share in the competition, HQ is letting this experience be ubiquitous.

The New York Times explains a bit more:

“We schedule our lives, but the apps on our phones have been designed to make content available anytime, anywhere,” Mr. Yusupov said. “We suffer from the paradox of choice ultimately — you search Netflix for 20 minutes and end up watching nothing.”

Not to mention the app lets people chat with each other, making the whole experience that much more inter-connected.

This all said, it’s also bringing Black Mirror that much closer to reality.

THIS IS SCARY. People have openly admitted to not knowing why they’re so anxious to play again, but just know that they have to try and get the jackpot.


In all seriousness, this reminds us a lot of the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive.” HQ may not be about social ranks, but it’s definitely creating a similar obsession factor around the game in which people have to be fully immersed and “on” at all times in order to be a contender.

Picture this, you’re out with friends for drinks and suddenly it’s 9 p.m. Everyone now looks like this:


There are serious implications that stretch across a variety of concerns when it comes to people being this focused on their devices.

  • Safety/awareness of surroundings

  • Attention spans

  • Development of obsessive tendencies

  • Ability to remain present

Sure, the creators want the game to bring people together. But it also seems to be making people change their schedules just to get to interact with the game.

People are beginning to crave the next session. And while we’re amazed at this level of engagement, it’s still quite alarming to witness. It also makes us reconsider what valuable content means.  

Everything aside, it’s too soon to know what will happen to HQ Trivia. It could just be a fad (think Flappy Bird, Pokemon Go) but for now, it’s one that people need to watch.

But… maybe from a distance.

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.

What will win this week?

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The Battle for Time - Week of January 7.