BEHIND THE SCENES

Creating the Perfect Trivia Question

HQ Trivia’s lead writer shares the secret to stumping players.

When you have 2 million players racking their brains in your live-stream trivia game, there’s no room for error. For each match, HQ Trivia’s writing team has to craft 12 clever questions that challenge players and give them a fighting chance at that cash prize.

So how do they do it? We spoke to lead writer Jesse Thompson about trivia in the age of search engines and how Beetlejuice was the ultimate stumper.

What makes a great trivia question?
I like questions to have a backstory and for people to come away with some tangible knowledge. So instead of asking, “What kind of music does this artist play?” we’ll start the question with “This artist has won three Grammys”—a little info that lets people say, “Look what I learned from HQ!”

Are any topics off-limits?
We want the game to be lighthearted and PG-13, so we avoid heavy or controversial stuff. For example, I came across this amazing fact about a town that was mysteriously gassed by carbon dioxide released from a lake, and Nick [Gallo, director of content] was like, “Nope, too dark!”

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