It was with great excitement that I downloaded the latest mobile craze, QuizUp, on Wednesday evening.
QuizUp is a trivia game that gathered more than 1 million downloads in its first week. Investors have lined up to throw millions of dollars at it.
It’s easy to see why the game is initially addicting. QuizUp links to your Facebook accounts, finds things you’re interested in, and lets you compete with either friends or strangers in those categories.
So if you’re a Dexter fan or Harry Potter fan like I am, you can challenge others to answer questions on those topics.
Here’s the problem:
If you’re like me and you don’t do well under a time crunch, you are going to be terrible at QuizUp even on a topic you know well.
For example, I have seen every episode of Dexter ever made. I’ve even read about alternative endings to the series. And I still lose most of my QuizUp games on Dexter.
The questions aren’t layups for fanatics. Instead, QuizUp asks trivial questions like, “What hotel did Rita work at?”
Spoiler alert: If you’ve watched Dexter, you know Rita was killed off years ago. It’s hard enough to remember season that happened in, let alone the name of her employer.
Dexter isn’t the only category I fail in. I’m ok at “Logos” but I’m terrible at “Harry Potter,” despite reading every book, seeing every movie, drinking butter beer at the theme park in Orlando and even visiting the studios outside London. There’s no “almost” winning either. In QuizUp, you flat out lose, no matter how close the scores are.
When you do win, it doesn’t always feel good. In the Dexter QuizUp game I played with my colleague Megan Rose Dickey, I beat her but we were both terrible. I was the lesser of two losers.
What’s worse: your losses aren’t kept private. Instead, QuizUp displays your results on friends’ home screens as well as your own. Now all my friends, not just me, know how terrible I am at trivia.
After less than one week with QuizUp, I’m already avoiding friends’ requests for matches. My success rate is only 25%. I actually caught myself wondering, “Am I an expert in anything? Or am I terrible at everything?”
The game put my self-esteem in a sad state quickly (Don’t worry, my confidence has recovered. Now it’s the app that’s stupid, not me!).
QuizUp has a thread of a good idea. But it needs to figure out a solution for the other half of its users — the losing half — who are too sore to keep playing.
Until there’s a little space in the app where I can play by myself and not advertise my terribleness, QuizUp is dead to me.