HQ Trivia has more than a million players (and counting), so it was only a matter of time before people figured how to, er, game it.
London, Ont.-based developer Mike Almond has created a bot to make the addictive game-show app, in which users try to answer a set of 12 questions to win prize money, just a bit easier.
The amount of cash you can win fluctuates, but a Tuesday afternoon game, for example, had a jackpot of $2,500, which you split with the other winners.
Almond's application hooks into the HQ Trivia app to grab the queries, and then quickly searches Google and Yahoo to see what shows up for that question in both the title of the search result and the preview text that accompanies it.
It then spits out a few possible answers, ranking them based on how often they appear in search.
There's nothing to prevent HQ players from combing Google themselves, but you only have 10 seconds to respond, which usually isn't enough time to process and then find the information.
Almond's bot can snag the questions about a second before HQ's host reads them, and then takes only a couple seconds more to display some possible answers.
"It's not accurate entirely, there's a lot of questions it gets stumped up on," Almond told HuffPost Canada, citing examples like those involving dates or numbers. Questions like "which one of these TV shows has been on air the longest" or "which of these is not the right answer" prove tricky for the bot too.
He also says he's never won an HQ Trivia game using his assistant, and wouldn't take money even if he did.
"I suppose it might be considered cheating," he admits.
Mellor wrote in a piece for Medium that using this sort of bot during a live game is against HQ's terms of service, so he used a previously-recorded game he found on YouTube to test the idea.
But Almond doesn't take his creation too seriously, saying he came up with it for fun.
He told The Daily Beast that he and his co-workers use it to play the game at 3 p.m. for the first of two daily rounds using a big screen.
"I think it's addictive just because there's that money at the end of the tunnel," he told HuffPost.
More to read:
HQ Trivia has become a phenomenon, but not just because there's a chance you could win $10. New York Times writer Amanda Hess wrote that it's also enticing because it's frustrating — both because of the frequent technical issues and the fact that questions are often obscure.
"If you can't finish the crossword, it feels like a personal failure," she wrote. "But when you lose HQ — which the vast majority of players do the vast majority of the time — it often seems arbitrary and unfair, the fault of the unskilled question writers or the unsophisticated technology."
It's up to you if you want to cheat the system a little bit — some say that using such software ruins the game, even if, as of now, the app can't tell.
You can find Almond's HQ trivia assistant on Github, but keep in mind that installing it requires some technical know-how.
H/T The Daily Beast
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