Wednesday, 22 February 2017

It would be a lot easier if I was nicer, or failing that, just a bad quizzer. . .

I’m not ashamed of it. Well, not very. No, not that, I mean playing online quiz games. When I’m not working or marking, and I’m watching something on the telly with about half of my attention I’ll sometimes play a quiz on the laptop at the same time. If you’ve been with LAM for a few years you may remember previous posts on games like Superbuzzer. I’ll come back to that. Well, I’ve hardly played on Superbuzzer for over half a year, mainly because I’ve been devoting all of my online quizzing time to a game called Quiz Panic. It’s a multiple choice quiz, with the point being to get to the correct answer more quickly than the other players. There are a number of challenges – for example – answer 10 consecutive questions correctly – and when you have completed 10 challenges, then your onscreen character – a ‘quizzy’ – evolves. Look, nobody said this was highly intellectual, right?

The problem is that once you’ve completed 100 challenges, then your quizzy has become as evolved as it is ever going to be. Maybe they’ll expand it at some future time – who knows. However, for now, once you’ve completed 100 challenges, then that’s it. You can still play of course, but there’s no great goal to it other than keeping winning. So of course it’s lost it’s allure. In the last few days I’ve been back to Superbuzzer, and let’s be fair, these few days have reminded me about one of the things that made Quiz Panic more alluring for the last half year or so. On Quiz Panic, there’s no chat.

Put simply, I’d forgotten just how ignorant, rude, and let’s call a spade a spade, vitriolic some of the players on Superbuzzer actually are when you beat them, or in extreme cases, even when you don’t. I’m sorry to say it, but judging by past experience, and by the experience of the last few days, we Brits are among the worst. I mean, it’s inherent in the DNA of pretty much any game that there is at least a chance that you are going to lose. Yes, I hate to lose, especially to lose a quiz, but it’s going to happen from time to time, and if you can’t cope with that, then you’re better off not playing in the first place.

You might say -  ah, yes, well this is just one aspect of the phenomenon by which people will use the supposed anonymity of the internet to say things to other people which they would never dream of saying face to face, and there’s certainly something in that line of argument. I don’t say for one moment that this is limited to quizzing. Yet in my experience there’s something about quizzing which brings out the petty-mindedness, ignorance and rudeness of a certain type of individual. In the last 18 months or so I’ve stopped going out to pub quizzes, with the exception of the Thursday night quiz in the rugby club. That’s a special case, being that I’m a regular setter, and my team don’t win most weeks. There’s several factors which have resulted in this outcome, but one of them has definitely been the fact that John and I would find a new quiz, and start attending. We’d be welcomed for the first few weeks, but if we won the majority of quizzes for more than a couple of months, then the nastiness would inevitably creep in from at least one of the regular teams and/or the question master(s). A few years ago this only had the effect of spurring me on – the more another team were nasty and made it clear they didn’t want us to keep coming, the more determined I’d be to be back and try to win the next week. Now, though, I don’t need it. Whether it’s fair or not, I don’t want to be the cause of the nastiness and bad feeling any more.

Then there was the business with the league last year. I didn’t write about it at the time, because I didn’t want to risk potentially spreading any more bad feeling. Basically, a resolution was made at last year’s AGM to change the constitution of the League to make a new rule that anyone who a) lived outside the town, and b) had won a national quiz competition would be ineligible to play in the league. As far as I know, I was the only person playing at that time to whom both of these criteria applied. The resolution was defeated, partly because it had not been put forward in the correct fashion, and partly because fewer people were in favour of it than against it. I tried very hard not to treat it personally, and while my ego can even accept that there may well be people out there who just find my personal qualities so objectionable that they have no wish to be in the same room as me for a couple of hours twice a year, I think that the fact that my team completed the league and cup double every year since I joined may have had something to do with it as well. Which is not to say that this success is all down to me at all, for we’re a team, not one individual player. I’d guess that I’m probably a more identifiable target due to the Mastermind thing.

Had this happened three or four years earlier I’d probably have been a bit more bullish about it – along the lines of, look, if you don’t like getting beaten in the league, then why don’t you get better at your quizzing? Do some work for it etc. etc. etc. But the fact is that I used to play in the Neath Quiz League back in the mid and late 90s. That was a league which folded, and it was only years later that I found out that some of the teams quit playing partly because the league was being dominated by one strong team – the one I was a member of. The last thing I want to see is this happening again. So what I said was that I would not play this year. However, that didn’t mean I wanted our team, the Explorers, packing in as well. So I also said that I would drive team members to the matches, ask questions if required, basically do whatever was required to keep the team playing in the league.

This was all well and good for the first few weeks of the season. Terry from the Thursday night quiz in the rugby club agreed to play, and everything seemed ok. However, sadly our friend and long time teammate Brian was taken into hospital, and passed away from a long term illness. We tried to find another player, but to no avail. Frankly, I thought that the idea of us playing with only three players while I looked on would have been ridiculous. So I filled in, and have been doing so since November. We’re now at the stage that with 6 games left to play we only need to win one more to be mathematically certain of winning the league. And don’t get me wrong, that’s not down to me. The team won all of their 5 or 6 league matches without me at the start of the season, and there’s no reason to think that they wouldn’t have won any of the subsequent matches if I hadn’t. But it does worry me that I have not been able to keep my word, and that the underlying perception of what’s happening in the league won’t have been changed by what has happened this season, albeit that we were knocked out of the cup. So I’m wondering if I need to just say – thanks for the fun and the memories – and walk away from the team completely next year. If they can keep it going themselves, as I hope that they can, well and good, but if they can’t, then l maybe just have to accept that. Because if I involve myself in any way, I won’t be able to stop myself from filling in and playing if I’m needed. Let me be clear about this. I don’t want to stop playing, I still enjoy the Monday nights very much. But in all honesty I don’t know if it’s doing the league any good if I continue. I haven’t spoken to the team about this yet, but it’s a conversation I’ll need to have sooner rather than later.


Angram said...

Hello David, frequent lurker breaking cover here. I started playing Superbuzzer following your mention of it some time ago but gave up in despair for exactly the same reasons as you - I mean, it's a *game* for heaven's sake, but the abuse & unpleasantness that was regularly meted out to me just because I happened to win, accusations of cheating, googling,etc.
Another similar experience to you - some years back now I used to quiz occasionally with a team of work colleagues (all of us female, which may or may not be relevant). We were invited to play in a local village winter quiz league, and happened to win it three years in a row, usually a close run thing and certainly not a shoo-in. The following year the father of one of my team mates was in the post office queue behind the quiz organiser who was chatting to the postmaster about the upcoming start of the league and he said "the winners aren't coming back this time". Well that was the first we'd heard about it! A quiet hint to us about retiring as unbeaten champions, if there were any rumblings of discontent, would've been better than just being blackballed for our success (and not even the decency to tell us). Anyway, we've never quizzed together since! It put us off really.

Londinius said...

Hi Angram,
It's a sad thing, and up to about 18 months ago I never thought it would get me to the stage where I'd want to just stop playing, but that's how I feel about things like Superbuzzer now, and about social pub quizzes.

With the league it's a bit more complicated. It seemed like all of those first 5 or 6 matches of the season where I was sitting it out members of the other teams we were playing against were saying that it was stupid me doing this, and that I should be playing. But the fact remains that I'm not just imagining it, there is some opposition to me continuing playing. And I don't want anyone else to stop playing, and if I'm honest, I haven't liked the relative ease with which we've retained the league this year. OK - that's a little premature - but if we win so much as 1 game from our last 6 we become mathematically uncatchable.

I think that what I've come to accept is that not everybody has the same attitude to a quiz as I have - in fact I'd go so far as to say that most social quizzers and local league players don't have the same attitude. Tom me it seems obvious that if you lose, and you don't like it - then you do some work to improve. to get better, so that your losing matches become closer, and you start winning the majority of your tight matches. But that doesn't seem like something the majority of causal players are prepared to contemplate. I've come to accept that it does pee off other players when they feel they can't compete - and I've come to accept that there's little I can do or say which is going to change this.

Angram said...

Quizzing's like any hobby or pursuit, to be successful you have to put some effort in. If people aren't prepared to do that, fine, it's up to them, but it's no reason to berate or resent those who do.
I doubt whether athletes say "blimey, that there Mo Farah's been practicing again - how dare he! we're not going to let him run in our races any more in case he beats us".

Londinius said...

I like the Mo Farah analogy, although I don't strictly think you're comparing like with like. As a professional athlete the great Sir Mo, and his competitors have to accept that the best preparation is essential to achievement, the greater their achievements meaning the better lifestyle they can provide for themselves and their families. Good luck to them as well - they earn it. Yet I suppose that other people would say that a 'good' quizzer , which I immodestly call myself, playing in a social quiz is the equivalent of Sir Mo taking part in his children's school sports day Fathers' Race. Although it's worse than that, since if that did happen then at least all the other dads would be able to say that they once took part in a race with the great man. So it's probably more equivalent to a professional footballer playing in a Sunday morning pub league team.

I don't help myself with my own attitude I'm honest enough to admit. I have a childish desire to win. I always go into a quiz thinking I can win, and wanting to win. Oh, I know in my heart of hearts that in some quizzes I play I or my team am very much an underdog, but it still doesn't stop the desire. And I'm afraid I can be pretty intense about this. If I think I've done well with a particular question I often can't help showing it. When I dredge something up from God knows where, or I use an obscure piece of knowledge I do know to answer something I don't know, I can't help showing that I'm pleased with myself. And if you don't understand the attitude I take into a quiz - that I want to play as well as I possibly can in a quiz, and I'm happy with myself when I do, and unhappy with myself when I don't - if you don't understand that attitude in a quiz, then you're not going to be all that sympathetic to someone who shows it. If you take it that seriously, goes the question, then why are you playing in fun quizzes in the first place? And I'm afraid that anyone who would actually ask that question would not be satisfied with my answer - to me, this IS fun.

Ian F said...

It's very much the British character. We're a nation that loves sports and makes heroes of sporting winners. We also love quizzes - but at the same time we're suspicious of 'smartarses'.

Dan said...

I was excluded from my local league before I'd even started. Was given an excuse which I thought was nonsense at the time, and managed to confirm later (I've lived in this town for 25 years, so I know a fair few people now). Sad when people decide to run things that way, but there you go. Plenty of other places to go play.