Have you heard of HQ? Learn more about the trivia app that's taking the world by storm.

In an age when TiVo, DVRs, Netflix, Hulu, and the many other on-demand streaming services reigns supreme, scheduled programs seem almost... archaic in comparison. 

However, HQ Trivia is an app that is changing on-demand culture and forcing people to follow its rules, as it’s an app that can only be played at scheduled times. 

That’s right, HQ Trivia can only be played twice a day, yet it’s earned valuable real estate on millions of peoples phones.

How HQ Trivia Works

HQ Trivia is a live mobile trivia app, pitting hundreds of thousands of people, sometimes over one million, against each other. Unlike most apps on the market, you can’t play HQ Trivia anytime you’d like. 

Part of the appeal of this app is that you only have two chances per day to play, and it’s a single question elimination - one wrong answer and you’re no longer in the running for the prize money.

Each day, around 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., HQ Trivia hosts a quiz show, where players are served twelve questions, covering anything and everything. When you log into the app, it shows you when the next trivia game will be played, and how much prize money you’re playing for.

When players log into their app for a game time, they’ll see a comment feed moving at massive speed, as thousands of players kill time commenting before the game. If you’re able to catch any of the comments (they move lightning fast) you’ll find that most of it is jibberish and nonsensical. 

You may also see some people getting kicked out for posting profanity or otherwise violating the terms of use, though one wonders how on earth they’re able to police it all, with over half a million people logged in.  

As you get closer to the game, a two-minute countdown clock begins, and the background music begins to build. Part of the cult following for the trivia game is due to its host, Scott Rogowsky, and you’ll often see a lot of commenters wondering aloud if he’ll be hosting that particular game (a variety of other hosts step in when Rogowsky’s not available). 

Once the game begins, players are greeted by the host, standing in front of a nondescript backdrop who throws out some of the cheesiest lines possible, gives the rules and a few shoutouts and then gets down to business.

If you’ve managed to make it through the host’s opening monologue without your screen freezing or lagging, congratulations, your odds have just increased for winning the game! As Amanda Hess writes, in her New York Times article about the app, HQ Trivia is the “most popular app that barely even works.” 

Simply put, you can be the best Jeopardy! player on the planet, but if your internet connection is terrible, or HQ Trivia’s servers are overloaded, you don’t stand a chance. Yet you’ll keep coming back to play again.

Why HQ Trivia Is So Popular

As Hess writes, HQ Trivia is the “Best Worst Thing on the internet.” Some of the popularity of the game is likely due to FOMO (fear of missing out). 

When people are chatting about a particularly brutal question or one of Scott Rogowsky’s corny quips on social media and around water coolers in the office, it makes others want to take part in the conversation. 

And when people are talking about the current ‘it’ thing, you naturally want to try it out. In my opinion, part of the draw of HQ Trivia is not because it’s free to play (although the thought that you could win a cash prize without an entry fee is enticing), but because it’s so different.

Here’s an opportunity for you to have your own live, game show experience, from anywhere you have an internet connection.

Not only that, but there’s a rush that accompanies each question, as you race to log your answer before the time runs out (or your screen freezes). You wait in anticipation as the host reveals the answer and calls out the stats in real-time and it's amazing to see how 800,000 players quickly drops to 200,000 eligible players, after a question or two. 

Suddenly, what seems impossible - winning a portion of the jackpot - becomes possible, and even imaginable, as you watch other players drop like flies.

Last night, my husband and I sat in the living, each of us logged into HQ Trivia on our phones. As we waited for the game to start, our phones alternating between playing the background music in stereo and single audio, as each of our phones froze intermittently. 

For all of the fifteen minute buildup, I lasted two questions, while my husband was knocked out in the third round because his phone froze in the middle of the question. 

Instead of getting angry, we laughed it off, vowing to play again….

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About Lauren B. Stevens

Lauren B. Stevens is a writer, editor & digital parent, whose pieces have been published across the internet and featured in several print anthologies. Lauren lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and son, and enjoys spending her family time hiking and traveling.

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