A Trivial Tale: 'how u win' at Xbox Live's 1 vs. 100
Kyle Orland, Crispy Gamer
During the first, beta season of Xbox Live's "1 vs. 100," I probably played about two dozen rounds of the game's half-hour, 37-question Extended Play mode, which pits thousands of live participants against one another in a straight up battle for trivia supremacy. In that time, despite having some pretty strong trivia knowledge (if I do say so myself), I didn't once make it onto the prominently displayed list of top-10 scorers available throughout each round. It didn't matter if I started the round with a string of quick, correct answers -- there always seemed to be at least 10 other perfect players whose faster answers gave them at least a few dozen more points than me. I would often skirt the edges of the top-10 list for 10 or 15 questions before inevitably missing an answer and watching my chances of seeing my name in lights fall away for the rest of the round.
I thought more than once that the people putting up these top scores must be cheating somehow. Their answers were too perfect, their timing bonuses too high, their consistency too ... consistent (the same Gamertags seemed to clog up the list throughout multiple Extended Play rounds). I figured these top scorers must be exploiting a glitch in the game, or using a group of trivia experts and super-fast
I no longer think that way, because last night,
(Holds for applause)
This performance is quite possibly my greatest achievement in a videogame up to this point in my life. Sure, getting a near-perfect "AA" score on the Heavy version of DDRMAX's "Ordinary World" was gratifying after weeks of fruitless attempts, but there I was only competing with myself (and my body). Defeating dozens of other game journalists at a Nintendo College Media Day "
It wasn't luck that carried me across the finish line in "1 vs. 100" last night, though ... it was my encyclopedic knowledge of videogame trivia, a skill that has served me well in my profession as a game journalist, but never really helped me succeed in the games themselves. Sure, a lot of the early questions were ridiculously easy: "What's the name of the princess in the Mario games?" (They were looking for the more modern "Peach," and not the old-fashioned "Toadstool"); "What year did the original Xbox come out?" (If you're having trouble remembering the exact year, consider that two of the three multiple-choice options were "1901" and "2101"); "What is a 'hadoken'?" (You didn't even need to know it was Ryu and Ken's fireball-throwing chant -- knowing it as "a 'Street Fighter' move" was enough); "What fuzzy orange character hopped around a pyramid?" (All but 2,000 or so of the 34,000-plus players knew it was Q*Bert).
But the trivia got pretty ... well, trivial, at points, and these were the points where my experience set me apart from the mob. I knew
Still, there were some questions that I was forced to work out through the process of elimination. Even though I'd never played "Chili Con Carnage," the game sounded like a better fit for a character named "Ramiro 'Ram' Cruz" than the other choices: the saccharine "Cooking Mama" and "Cookie & Cream." I didn't know the name of the Achievement earned for "spreading the love" in "Fable II" offhand, but "Paramour" made more sense in context than "Paragon" or "Pompadour." And though I've never heard the Beastie Boys song "The Sound of Science," I knew that neither "Sabotage" nor "Fight for Your Right" included the asked-about reference to "Robotron." I felt like I was taking the SATs again, eliminating the answers I knew were wrong until what I was left with had to be right.
For some questions, though, even the process of elimination wasn't enough, and I was faced with a true educated-guess situation. One question asked for the name of the Xbox 360 Achievement earned for creating a player in "Madden NFL 2005" (even if I had played the game, I doubt I would have remembered that one). Another asked me to pick the name of a voice actor in "God of War II" from three people I had never heard of. Yet another stumper asked for the birthplace of Japanese game maker
This strategy worked wonderfully until Question 25, which was about Wolverine's voice actor in "X2: Wolverine's Revenge." There was really no excuse for my missing this one; this was a game I suffered through from beginning to end for a review in the
Surprisingly, these wrong answers weren't enough to knock me out of contention, thanks to poor performances from the rest of the contenders. I had finally broken through to the top 10 around Question 14 or 15 (I don't remember exactly), and was excited to see my Gamertag pop up in the fifth-place slot, despite what I felt were some way-too-slow answers. By the commercial break after Question 18, I had worked my way up to second place, just three scant points shy of the leader. I took the opportunity to grab my camera and record my triumph, sure that I would screw it up before long and fall back down to Earth. That didn't happen, though, and after Question 21, about worldwide sales of Xbox 360s, I found myself atop all 34,000-plus other players for the first time! The X2 question (No. 25) knocked me down to No. 5 again, but I didn't get discouraged, slowly building up my streak and working my way into first place again by Question 34.
After Question 36, when the "
"What game did
My obsessive re-readings of Sheff's "Game Over" paid off yet again! Even before the choices appeared, I knew that the answer was "Radar Scope," an obscure
Mere seconds after my name showed up, Xbox Live chirped to life with a trio of friend requests from strangers whom I had to assume had been watching my mastery of videogame trivia. I felt at once gratified -- it's always nice to be popular -- and a little weirded-out that these strangers wanted to be friends with me just because I knew a lot of videogame trivia.
The most interesting friend request was from Fr3zhxKiiD, which was accompanied by a remarkably concise, earnest and punctuation-free message: "how u win".
I answered as matter-of-factly as I could: "I answered 35/37 questions correctly."
That's what it takes, folks. Those top players aren't cheating, they just know a lot more trivial stuff than you do. I'm sorry. We. WE know a lot more trivial stuff than you do.
Man, that feels good to say.
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