A Fun Game with A Funny Name: Sporcle
Do you know all of the presidents of the United States? The names of the elements? Or Snow White’s dwarfs? What about matching authors to book titles? If you’re the kind of geeky nerd that enjoys the challenge of these types of trivia questions–and it turns out there are a lot of us out here–you’ll love Sporcle. Why the strange name? According to founder Matt Ramme, the name is a play on the word “oracle.”
So what is Sporcle exactly anyway, and how does it work? Sporcle characterizes itself as a source for “mentally stimulating diversions.” Its quizzes cover a wide array of interesting topics, including geography, history, movies, music, and trivia from popular culture. Quizzes are both created by site administrators and users, and the “official” quizzes are more reliable/accurate than the user-created ones, although both are a lot of fun. (Scroll down to the bottom if you just can’t wait to try one!)
Players try to beat the clock, with quiz times ranging from 1 minute to 20 minutes. After 17 seconds, the words “Give up?” appear under the timer. The player can then click it to reveal all the correct answers, but the quiz ends. Players can also click View Stats to see how they did compared to everyone else who tried that quiz or Challenge Friends to compete head-on.
Considering its popularity now, few would believe that Sporcle was not originally intended to go public. Instead, Ramme says that he was “basically trying to create a tool for myself.” The current CEO of Sporcle, Ali Aydar, says that Ramme and his wife are “avid crossword puzzle people.” Ramme wanted to expand his knowledge of trivia, since it was often a part of his crosswords, so he began quizzing himself. Flash cards were time consuming and unwieldy, so Ramme built a web program for himself, and the first Sporcle game was born. It challenged players to master the U.S. state capitals. Eventually Ramme began to post the games online, where they became instantly popular. Ramme remarked, “Every time I put one up, it got played.”
He launched a website for his quizzes in July 2007, and it was immediately featured with over 1500 “diggs” on the site digg.com. Aydar says, “After that, I was not surprised that [Sporcle] would go far!” Since its original debut, Sporcle has been played over 235 million times, and has been highlighted in many publications. Ramme has been asked why Sporcle is so popular, and he theorizes, “It’s easy to use, easy to just jump in. [Sporcle] challenges you to want to do better next time.” He remarked that it is a form of “accidental learning [and] entertainment.”
inReaders will be especially drawn to the Literature quizzes. Here’s a sample from that category that you can start by clicking the Play Game button: