On March 15, 2020, exactly a year ago, Maj. Chandrakant Nair, one of India’s well-known quiz masters, told the participants (as a joke) they should make the most of quizzing now, as no one knows when live quizzes would happen again. Surprisingly, lockdown 2020 has been a boon for Indian quizzing. Online tools like Zoom & Discord would ensure a boom in quizzing over the next year, reminding one of the days when Quiz time aired on Doordarshan, kids in India, we learned this new game.
In India, quizzing is not a mainstream sport. Most people think of quizzes either as a pastime for school and college students or fodder for popular television series like KBC ( plus its regional variants).
However, open quizzing is a small strong sub-culture, with its superstars, rivalries, inter-city feuds, and issues. In many cities, hard-core quizzers meet regularly, with sets of questions designed to give each other a thorough mental workout.
Bangalore, where I live, has one of India’s most happening quiz scenes, every year, 75+ quizzes happen through the Karnataka Quizzing Association ( KQA), culminating in a three-day quizzing fest. Then there are branded corporate events, business quizzes with substantial prize money, and fame for the winners. There are a few Quizzing companies, like Nexus, that produce content for shows and conduct their own branded quizzes. Like Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkatta & Goa have evolved quizzing ecosystems. Quizzers frequently host & participate in cross-national and international quizzes.
Could this entire ecosystem transition online? It seemed unlikely, but quizzers responded as hive, and before you knew it, we were all quizzing a lot more than we did before the lockdown.
Online quizzes have surprised most with the sheer scale and numbers with a lot more diverse audience and participation.
” India wants to know ! ” the quirky, panel quiz has successfully transitioned into a weekly online quiz. Every week their registrations for a 1000 person Zoom quiz are closed within a day of opening up. They’ve also moved into streaming spaces. Quizzing company Walnut has also had success with its “Qshala ” family quiz. As families spend time together during the lockdown, quizzing as a team has become a fun activity.
Women quizzers find online quizzing a great leveler, unlike the typical open quizzes where women’s participation is varied and mostly sub-optimal. “I realize that’s because I don’t have to travel to another corner of the city to get my fix.” says my friend and ace quizzer Preyoshi. One of the most active quizzing groups on WhatsApp is the ” Herd of quizzers”, the all-women quiz group that has unified women from across the country on one platform.
However, All is not rosy with online quizzes.
The most disturbing trend is what I like to term “shameless googling” or its technical term ” cheating”. A few months ago, while hosting I found myself shocked, several teams getting perfect scores on a tough online written quiz. Something that has never happened in the several other quizzes I’ve hosted. Online quizzes, even with good policies in place, are impossible to police. The result is often people whose integrity is suspect dragging the entire set down.
There have also been questions on the quality and prices charged by some quizzes. Quizzes, like all sports, have a pitch or an acceptable standard for various formats. Questions make or break quizzes, best are the ones whose that seem tough but can be worked out through a series of logical steps or deductions. Some online quizzes, run by relative newbies, had questions that are either irrelevant or impossible to answer, making them boring, and leaving disgruntled audiences asking for their money back.
These minor Quibbles apart, I for one am very happy to see the tribe of quiz enthusiasts growing. With some semblance of normalcy, in a bio-bubbled, post-vaccine world live quizzes should be back soon. These armchair enthusiasts will then hopefully turn up to the various quizzing clubs in their cities adding freshness and enthusiasm to quizzes. Experiencing the Andrenaline rush that a live quiz brings us, old-timers.