Tree Of Knowledge

Originally Published: 1 August 2011

There’s a chance, if pub trivia machines ever gain any kind of sentience that they’ll all think their name is “bastard” or, depending on the quality of your local, something much, much worse. Luring you in with the come-to-gamble eyes of beardy-weirdy Noel Edmonds, or the wandering eyes of round-faced bombshell Chris Tarrant, pub quiz machines want you to part with your money, get drunk and part with even more of it.

Questions fly at you thick and fast. Which of these words is a food?

A) Wood
B) Armchair
C) Washing
D) Pies.

It’s pies. Press pies. Yes! Pies. Come on! Fist pump. The works. Well done, you’ve answered a question that anyone with half of half a brain (so, a quarter) could have worked out. You plough on. The questions get harder. You get one wrong. You’re gutted. The fist pumps have turned to despair – as all good British fist pumps do given enough time.

By now the trivia machine knows you’ve had a few. While you were debating how many Graboids there were in the film Tremors, your mates have been plying you with beer. You’re a little bit squiffy. You’re somewhere between happy and punchy. The trivia machine knows this. It knows that you’re on the cusp of feeling invincible. It knows that you think, right now, that you could take on the entire team of Eggheads single-handedly and wipe the smug smile off smug CJ’s smug face. It knows that you think that this next 50p is the one. The prize-winner.

You start the game. You get the first few right but, for some reason, the touch screen isn’t as reactive to your frantic mauling as it was before. You’re dangerous close to running out of time on some questions, and then you get one wrong. You call the machine a bastard or, again, if you’re in a far seedier establishment something much, much worse. You head off, have a kebab and try and have a fight with a lamp-post. You’ll remember none of it in the morning.

Now, thanks to the lovely people at Relentless Software, in ever-sunny Brighton, you can relive all that via your iPhone. They’ve launched Quiz Climber, a free Trivia Game, which is exceptionally brilliant. I’m not reviewing it. If I was it’d be a 9. It would have been a 10 but I couldn’t beat either Andrew Eades, the co-founder of Relentless, or our very own Giles who worked on the game as well. I suspect them both of cheating but this has yet to be proven.  It is genuinely good. And sometimes I feel guilty playing it and think I should just throw 50p away each time I start a game.

If you log in using Facebook, you can play against all your friends who have logged in via Facebook as well. And then the fun begins as you become somewhat competitive – where you can substitute the word “somewhat” for “insanely”. The staff room where I work, a distinctly non-gaming place, echoes with sound of manically giggling squirrels as people in the building try to outdo each other. A local challenge has started in my house as both Carole and myself are playing it. I’m winning. Ner-ner-ner-ner-ner etc. And don’t even get me started on the joys of beating Martin and then apologising on his Facebook wall.

As an example of the hidden competitive nature of the game, Helen – the lovely PR for Relentless – has just given birth. Today (as I write this), I think. I congratulated her on the new arrival this afternoon. Her message back to me read. “Thanks Jake. I will be back on the ‘tree’ soon so don’t go resting on your laurels.”

Even giving birth, it would seem, doesn’t deter you from challenging your friends.

I think I’ll just give it another go.