Regular readers may remember that I’m in a sort of work crunch period at the moment, in real life I work for one of the UK’s top universities (it’s Cambridge) and during the exam period, as it is, we’re open a bit later so I go full throttle on overtime (because I live in a flat, in Cambridge) so I don’t really have much time to explore gameshow stuff. The good news is that there’s only three weeks left and I get my life back, and so I’ll have a bit more time to dedicate to The Bar.
One of the things we do to pass the time is app based quizzing in between the moments when we have customers to serve. The Tenable app is pretty much perfect for this – no time pressure so we can put it down if we have to deal with something, well pitched questions, and a reveal that’s still quite exciting even without the real stakes. We’ve also got some mileage out of the Millionaire app from all the way back in 2013, even if it suffers from very dated questions.
If you know of any more apps that fit the bill then do let me know in the comments. We might see if Pointless works under the circumstances playing against AI.
However there’s a more recent Who Wants to be a Millionaire? app come out, based loosely on the US version. And I hate it. But I also can’t stop playing it.
It is very much the epitome of money grabbing, but in a way yet manages to be insidious but aggressive.
In each game you play against an “opponent” (i.e. it’s someone’s picture and probably an AI). You answer questions and go up the money ladder but, and here’s the exciting twist, you can’t cash out until your opponent makes a mistake. At that point you’re free to cash out whenever. The actual “dollar” value of the questions is largely irrelevant, but to make your coins back, which is the payment of entry, you’ve got to make it to at least question ten. Whatsmore, beating your opponent nets you a bonus box, filled with lifelines and experts and suchlike, but go a few questions further and you can upgrade that to a better box, with more lifelines and experts and suchlike. It very much encourages you to play on – bonuses are yours to keep regardless but coins are always on the line (you can only “drop” as far as your opponent got).
Pretty good. The questions are fair, they rarely get more than £16k/£32k level really. You have a limited selection of lifelines, you earn more by opening boxes. Mildly addictive stuff.
How do you open a box? You start a timer with various amounts of hours on it depending on how good the box is. Oh you can’t be bothered to wait? Well there’s a speedy-option! Use jewels to unlock the box early. Want to use a lifeline but don’t have any in stock? Jewels! Want to ask an expert, but you haven’t waited the requisite eight hours? Jewels! Got an answer wrong and would like another go? Lots of jewels! Want to upgrade a box? A stupid amount of jewels! How stingy is it in giving jewels out? Incredibly! So far, so standard pay-to-play. But it really is very stingy in terms of what it gives out compared to what you need to do anything worthwhile.
Viewers, I’ve spent money. Not much, £4 total, and it doesn’t go far. And if you want to play but run out of coins, every four hours you get a FREE MYSTERY BOX with not-quite-enough coins to play a game at the top level you’re at and a lifeline.
You get a question wrong on the Jeopardy app, say, you still get to play out the rest of the game. You get one of the early questions wrong here, you’ve blown four hours effectively. It’s effectively virtual jeopardy, but it’s jeopardy all the same, you’re begging for your opponent to go wrong when you get into the big money, and even when you “win” it’s surprisingly nervewracking pushing onwards. In the last week I’ve found myself deliberately working out the best times to play for maximum advantage later on. It’s ingenious and horrible, be careful before downloading.