Here's how the HQ trivia game hacks your brain

Feb. 15, 2018

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Every few years, there’s a new huge game app. Right now, it’s HQ.

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HQ is a live trivia game. There are 12 multiple-choice questions, and if you get them all right, you split prize money with anyone else who wins.

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About 1 million people play HQ at set times each day. Here are three reasons why people keep coming back to play.

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Money

Winners share a cash prize, usually $2,500 but sometimes as high as $20,000. When there’s a large pool of winners, they net hilariously small sums of money.

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But it’s not the amount [of money] that matters. It’s apparently the fact that people feel like they’ve done something of value once they win the game.

— Sekoul Krastev, behavioral scientist

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Fundamental attribution error

This means when I get a question wrong, it’s a mistake. But if you get a question wrong, it’s because you’re dumb.

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HQ is designed to make us think we’re smarter than we really are. When we watch other players in the game get eliminated, it makes us feel smart.

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FOMO

HQ thrives on FOMO. It’s played at the same time every day, and all your friends are playing it, so you probably want to play it with them.

Because if you hear about it more and more often, it starts to go from just being a game to kind of being a social movement. Kind of like Pokémon Go.

— Sekoul Krastev, behavioral scientist

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HQ is doing the stuff that television game shows have done for decades. But it’s using new technology to surpass all of the traditional game shows.

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