What If: Trivia Show Software

Earlier this year I was involved in hosting a kind of trivia evening. In order to make things more exciting, each round was worth more points than the previous. The evening was a huge success, but since there were about 15 teams, adding up the scores became a bit of a chore. So in today’s article, I imagine some software which would make such events easier to manage in future.

The Set-up

Imagine that the host of the event has a laptop set up, hooked up to a projector. A couple of helpers have smart phones which are connected to a wireless network which allows them to connect to the laptop via http. The laptop is running software which acts as a web server, so any web-capable phone will work.

Before the Game

Before the event, the host enters into the laptop the planned number of rounds and how many points the questions will be worth in each round. The host may also set up some kind of authentication for the helpers to use when first connecting to the laptop. This may be a username/password combinations for each helper, a single master password, or just matching the IP addresses or MAC addresses (if the setup allows) of the smartphones to be used.

Let the Games Begin

As the game starts, the helpers go around to each table to get the team names. As these are entered into the smart phones, the team names come appear on the projector (which is displaying an AJAX webpage hosted on the laptop). Perhaps the projector even shows the table layout with the team names on the correct table.

Things Progress

After each round, the teams pass their answers to another team to be marked. The helpers then enter into their phones how many questions each team got correct in that round. These are transmitted to the laptop which calculates the team scores and shows a leader board and perhaps even a graph. The host of the event also has the ability to add bonus points and subtract penalty points using either the laptop, or the host’s own phone.

Other Thoughts

If the wireless network is provided by an access point connected directly to the host’s laptop, other exciting possibilities emerge. For instance, the laptop could be running a DNS server, so that the helpers can simply go to http://www.trivia/ in their browsers. Also, if it’s an open access point with an innocent-looking name, you could try to catch a few cheaters—simply set up a capture portal which uses javascript / flash / some other technology to play a loud alarm sound the minute anyone on the wireless network goes to any webpage except the trivia page.

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