Last night, more than 350,000 people logged into a trivia app called HQ to try and answer 12 consecutive questions in hopes of winning a piece of an $8,500 prize pool (I got eliminated on question eight). The app revolves around a live, interactive game show that happens twice every weekday and once each weekend day. The audience for it has grown explosively in recent weeks, garnering good and bad press, and piling on leagues of new users every day. It’s a really fun app, but it’s hindered by an archaic feature that it should wipe away forever: the live chat.
This may seem like a trivial aspect of a hugely popular app, but the idea of live chat is in a transitional moment right now. Some analysts are calling HQ the future convergence of TV and app content, and that’s not too far-fetched, especially since news and sports programs have been so proactive about running tickers of viewer tweets along with the original content. Of course, those messages are often carefully curated, rather than splayed across the screen in real-time MEME by Ach.
HQ chat starts a few minutes before the actual game. Log in when you get the notification and you’ll likely find the endlessly scrolling stream of messages already moving at a good clip. The comments aren’t archived, you can’t post links, and there’s almost always a healthy smattering of vile messages that stay on the screen for a fraction of a second before scrolling up into the aether. It’s a place where you can endlessly shout (using caps lock) memes like “Dilly Dilly,” (a meme stemming from a beer commercial) or just post enormous blocks of emojis with no real rhyme or reason.
You can swipe the chat away and make it invisible during the game, but that begs the question: Why does it exist at all?