Monday, April 13, 2009

Getting Her Smartass Kicked

Apropos of supporting Second Life trivia events that are something other than free-for-all speed-typing contests in open chat, I was delighted to learn Hummingbird Forster, the proprietress of one of SL's popular trivia venues, was putting on a game called "Smartasstermind," based on the popular British quiz show Mastermind.

Mastermind contests have two rounds of two minutes each. The first round is a set of "specialist" questions on a subject of the contestant's choosing—if the player is an expert on the British royal family, planetary science, sub-Saharan Africa, computer languages, whatever, they can select that as their specialist subject and try to use their knowledge to rack up points. The second round of questions on on general knowledge, and that helps level the playing field between contestants. Winners are determined by who got the most questions right and (in the event of ties) passed the fewest questions.

Hummingbird's "Smartasstermind" (the name refers to daily trivia events which award small prized for the funniest incorrect answer) was a little different, to accomodate the realities of SL. Rounds were limited to five minutes, and only had ten questions each: thus, there was no advantage to quickly passing on a question you don't know in hopes of getting a better one. The maximum score would be 20 points: perfect 10s in each round.

Hummingbird hosts (right) as Lou (left, apparently in her Han Solo outfit) crashes and burns playing Smartasstermind.

I thought I'd do great at Smartasstermind: finally a trivia contest that would reward knowledge and thinking, not sheer typing speed. But it's amazing what being up on a stage (in a replica of that chair!) can do to your nerves: I was surprised to find myself nervous and twitchy, and when my specialist questions came—I'd picked "guitars" as my subject—I found myself immediately reverting to open-chat trivia norms, typing answers as fast as I could think of them.

The results? As pathetic as you might think! I believe I got half my specialist questions right. Way to go, Lou! And it wasn't that Hummingbird had picked things that were too tough—I in fact knew most of the questions but couldn't wrap my head around the game. I did marginally better at my general knowledge questions, having been chastened by my performance in my specialist round.

Other players had no such trouble, though. I watched eventual winner Maestrom Janus drolly type his way through both specialist and general knowledge questions—I think his total score was 17 or 18 points out of a possible 20. Mael's specialist topic was no surprise to folks who've made his acquaintance: Dr. Who.

Smartasstermind winner Maelstrom Janus blithely typing his responses.

I don't know if Hummingbird is planning another Smartasstermind event, but if so I will happily save up my Lindens for the entrance fee: the game was great fun and I'm totally behind new forms of trivia games in Second Life. I just have no idea what I'd pick for my specialist topic next time!


  1. It must be fixed if Mael won!

  2. Oh, I imagine you'd have done pretty well with 10 general knowledge questions and 10 NASCAR questions. But you didn't even have the guts to play!

  3. Fix some orange or plum sauce for that cheeky duck !!!!!


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