HQ Trivia App Attracts All with Promise of Big Wins

Morgan C. Mullings, Opinion Editor

The HQ App is a celebrity all by itself, and on the St. John’s campus, students are watching its every move. What other app gives thousands of students the same notification at the exact same time every day? HQ is the game show in your phone that happens at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. everyday. There are only 12 questions. Get one wrong and you’re out. Make it to the end with your friends and you can share a prize of $2,000 or more with the others who answered all the questions correct too.

The questions start off deceptively easy: “Which of these is a U.S. State?” With two out of three answer choices being names of fruits. By the third question however, over 500,000 of the usual million that tune in are eliminated. They only had 10 seconds to answer anyway.

When asked, students immediately show if they love or hate the concept. The money is real, but you are lucky if you even know someone who got to question 11. “Once I started I got hooked pretty fast. There seems to be no reason not to play,” junior Justin McGriff said. He teams up with his friends all the time so that they can help each other answer the tougher questions.

If you see a group of students huddling around their phones at 3 p.m., now you know why. The original live HQ host, Scott Rogowsky, hooks players in with non-stop conversation and puns, never warning you of the next question.

While there are other hosts, his popularity got him all the way to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve special on TV, where he announced an even larger prize if people played that night—and they did. “We always lose together but possibly one day we’ll win together,” McGriff said.

That’s the appeal. When you make it far and watch hundreds of thousands of others get eliminated, that might even feel better than winning, since you know you probably would lose at question 12 anyway.

“I like the live aspect. It’s great to sit around the TV with everyone and try to answer the questions together,” sophomore Najee Adams says.

Some of the hardest questions being: “How many times does the word ‘sex’ appear in the U.S. Constitution?” “Which of these is a common material used in 3D printers?” “Which one of these songs does not feature whistling?”

Even after so many losses, many students don’t plan on quitting HQ. “Of course not,” Adams said. But many have deleted the app to keep themselves from getting angry or anxious. Others are boycotting it because $15 million of the app’s funding comes from Peter Thiel, who gave $1.25 million to President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“I always forget to download it. As soon as I remember it’s 3 p.m., I realize that I still don’t have the app,” says junior Luana Bowers. HQ seems to be haunting in that way. But the most haunting aspect is playing for $10,000 and winning $20 because 500 other people made it to the end. “One day we were out to eat and we realized about 6 other tables in the restaurant got the same notification about HQ,” McGriff added. Those tables all played together that night, with no winners.

Despite the seemingly annoying popularity, scandal and being called “dystopian Jeopardy,” the HQties community is still thriving.