The makers of the popular Pictionary-style game Charadium are back to tackle another classic group experience on the iPhone. This time around they’re out to test your trivia skills, but developer On5 seems to miss the mark here in every place that matters. Weak gameplay and even weaker questions make Quizarium the answer to a question that nobody’s asking.
Quizarium is a multiplayer trivia experience that offers questions on every subject you can imagine. Upon booting the game up you’ll be taken to a chat style lobby, with different rooms offering questions on different topics. Sports, science, music, history, nature – you name it, there’s a general trivia category for it. Because there are so many topics and so many rooms, it seems as though a players options are limitless. Players can also submit their own questions via a web-based form on Quizarium.com, allowing them to not only play the game, but help create it. And while that may sound like fun, this is where Quizarium quickly starts to unravel.
Because many of the questions are user-created, there’s a lot of weak content out there. The submission form claims they go through an approval process but it doesn’t appear to be one that includes fact-checking. A built-in feedback system provides you the ability to give each question a thumbs up or thumbs down but it doesn’t let you explain why. Worse yet, some people use the thumbs down for questions that they simply don’t know the answers too, which in turn leads to everyone else giving the thumbs up. The practice has become so widespread that the entire feedback system is rendered useless.
For example, if I’m playing in the entertainment category and the question is “Which country is Loch Ness in?” I vote the question down because it has nothing to do with entertainment. But since it’s a perfectly valid question, people just assume I’m voting it down because I don’t know the answer – so 4 or 5 people immediately give it a thumbs up. The same thing happened when I gave the thumbs down to a question about Cheers that was painfully incorrect. They wanted to know which TV show about a bar went off the air in 1983 – only there’s no right answer, because Cheers went off the air 10 years later in 1993. (Ok – technically there is a right answer and it’s Archie Bunker’s Place, but who asides me would know that? Not the person who wrote this question, that’s for sure). When I gave the question the thumbs down, guess how many thumbs went up? It’s a bad, broken system that’s going to lead to an epic amount of frustration for trivia buffs.
The real frustration, though, comes from the actual gameplay. You’ll need to type the answers on the iPhone’s touch keyboard, making Quizarium less about knowing the right answers and more about how quickly you can type them. The game doesn’t allow for typos or small errors either. If an answer is Rhode Island, I can’t simply type the abbreviation “RI.” If the answer is bananas and I accidentally type “banansa,” it doesn’t give any leeway. In fact, until version 1.1 hit you couldn’t even put in the right answer without pluralisation. If the answer was “Americans,” simply typing “American” would not do. In a game about fast fingers on a notoriously typo-prone keypad, you need to cut the players some slack. Quizarium doesn’t.
A multiplayer trivia game is a fun idea in theory – and maybe if it were based on multiple choice answers instead of typing it would be fun in practice too – but the way Quizarium is laid out it’s really little more than a test of finger speed on the iPhone. Combine that with a seriously flawed question system and you’ve got a free game that simply isn’t worth the price.