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A popular new mobile game show called HQ Trivia is shutting down offices and classrooms, and creating quite a buzz in the mobile gaming world with its innovative format. The game is simple: you tune in at a specific time and try to answer 12 questions to win a real cash prize.
It was started by one of the founders of the popular video app, Vine, and the host is a stand-up comedian named Scott Rogowsky. We spoke with Scott to find out some more about his background and get his thoughts on the rapid success of the game. Following is a transcript of the video.
Scott Rogowsky: It all boils down to this!
I am the host with the challah French toast. The trap Trebek. Scott Rogowsky, host of HQ trivia.
My background is in comedy. I started doing stand-up comedy in college. Moved to New York City after college. Did the open mic thing for a few years. Transitioned to hosting talk shows. A sports talk show and then “Running Late with Scott Rogowsky” for the past 6 years.
About 2 years ago, I made a YouTube video showcasing some fake books on the subway. That went viral in a way that I never experienced before.
I auditioned for HQ back in April. It has been overwhelmingly positive. I can’t even describe the amount of tweets, and the comments, and people on the street stopping me, and just the joy of the fans of HQ. They love to play the game.
Their offices are shutting down at 3 p.m. Classrooms are stopping what they’re doing to play at 3 p.m. 9 p.m., people are gathering with their family. We saw it on Thanksgiving.
HQ kind of hearkens back to that old method of watching live television, when you couldn’t DVR it.
I’m sort of an old soul, and “You Bet Your Life” with Groucho Marx is the best game show of all time, in my opinion. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” of course, was a huge, huge phenomenon. Loved watching Regis. Still love Regis. Regis! Can you believe it?
Before the game, there’s a prep session with the producer and the writers. We kinda go through the quiz, the questions of the day. I make my notes to myself of ways to maybe transition from question to question. Or throw in an extra tidbit here and there. I try to throw a few slices of dried mango down my throat. And some date bars. Maybe some yerba mate. Get energized.
My suit is my uniform. To be honest, I really wanted to wear a suit with question marks covering the whole thing, but there was a guy giving away free money who already beat me to it. Shout out Matthew Lesko. So we had to pivot towards the black blazer, black tie.
The teleprompter has the questions. I’m not that good to where I could memorize all 12 questions and their answers. But there’s a fair amount of ad-libbing.
“Sherry! Oooh Sherry baby …Sherry! Is that Frankie Valli?”
“In the year 2000!”
Things pop into my mind when I’m in there that I don’t know where they come from sometimes. And sometimes I don’t know where they’re going. And sometimes I wish I didn’t say them.
Do I know most of the answers myself? Well, it depends on the category. I’m good with geography, history, sports, politics. When it gets into the gaming, the video games, the tech … those are my weak spots.
I don’t know how far I would get if I were to actually play HQ, but I like to think I would win at least one or two games.
The way the game works is I asked 12 questions, and you have 10 seconds to answer the question from when I start reading it. So it’s not a lot of time. Obviously, you can very easily have another device next to you, typing the answer.
“Siri! Where is Suriname located?”
You know? And they could give you the answer. Googling is happening. I think it’s happening. Frankly, I think it runs counter to the game. You know? If it’s really, truly a test of your wits, why would you rely on Google? We recommend that you Ask Jeeves.
Because this is such a new thing that has grown so quickly, there are going to be growing pains. And we’ve experienced that with some of the lag and so many people wanting to play, which is incredible, that you have the demand there. Obviously, the engineers are working around the clock, trying to do their best. There are times when the game glitches or freezes. And I have to sort of tap dance around that, do a little a little song and dance for the HQ-ties watching at home. But I’m used to struggling on stage. Let’s put it that way. From my 10 years of doing stand-up. So it actually helps when there’s no one there to heckle. It’s a heckle-proof environment.
What HQ brings is that idea of FOMO. Right? If you’re not playing the game, you’re missing out. And yeah, I think we’re going to start seeing other networks, other companies trying to come into the space. Maybe competitors to HQ. We’re already seeing some of those those pop up.
But could this move beyond trivia? I mean what makes this work is that we’re giving out money. Would people watch a talk show with no stakes? If it was live and in the moment? I dunno. Would they watch a cooking show?
The coolest thing about HQ is that after the games, you see that water cooler effect. You know, “Oh question 4! That was savage!” “Oh man, I completely guessed wrong on that one!” “I knew it, but I didn’t get it in time.”
It’s just a positive, joyous jubilation on the internet, which is so rare! It’s usually a very sad and angry place. But I think HQ is injecting some positivity back into the mix.
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