This week, Liv Siddall looks at the future of the humble pub quiz, and whether it can survive now that we all carry the infinite wisdom of the internet in our pockets.
Who doesn’t bloody love a pub quiz? For one hour a week your friends aren’t just people that let you hang around with them, you’re an indestructible team of knowledge who will stop at nothing to win the coveted pint glass full of pound coins. You’ve been handed the tag of “geography” due to your gap year experience and you believe in yourself more than you ever do in your real job. As you sip on your shandy, you scan the room to “suss out” your competitors and try to think of the wittiest quiz name since Quiz-Teama Aguilera shook things up in 2008. The bag of Scampi Fries is open and the quiz master’s testing the mic…things start to get a little. bit. tense…
Well, that’s how it should be. In 2009 a study found that there were 22,445 pub quizzes going on each week in the UK. That was the year that pretty much everyone had bought, or was planning to buy, an iPhone 3GS. People were just getting to grips with the idea that they could carry the internet, therefore infinite knowledge, around with them. Before that, it was still possible to go to a pub quiz and cheat using a phone – you could run to the toilets and text your mum, or even make a cheeky phone call to a friend outside. If you were really daring you could ask a rival team while you’re outside having a smoke.
Those tactics however were risky and didn’t always bring the correct answer, much to the displeasure of your teammates. Now, though, all you have to do is Google the answer between your legs on your phone and get it within seconds. And why not? It’s only a pub quiz, you’re not stealing from a charity shop. No one’s going to arrest you…
So what are the pubs meant to do? Take your phone off you when you come in and keep them safe behind the bar? Have matron-like people patrolling the tables looking for rule-benders? That’s never going to happen.
Some pubs in London are tackling the issue creatively, for instance the Boogaloo in Highgate which uses images, film clips and soundtracks rather than simple questions for their cinema-themed quiz. The Star of Bethnal Green asks teams to use their acting skills to impersonate animals to clinch the winning prize. Your iPhone won’t help you there.
The fact of the matter is that 99% (ish) of us own web-ready phones. We are also, as a nation, rather competitive and we like to WIN. Should anyone be blamed for cheating at a pub quiz, or is it just human nature? Shall we all just use our phones from now on and let the winner be decided on who is the best at Googling the answers? I don’t know. If it means we can keep the rapidly dying-out pub quiz, and one of the best Tuesday nights you’ll ever have, then so be it.
All comments welcome below!