Quizzing for Good: Making the Best of Lockdown
Jonathan turned a passion for quizzing into a lively way of socialising and cheering people up during lockdown. A venture which has now developed into a potentially lucrative online business. He tells us why he set up House of Quiz, and why it’s far more fun than most!
Photo: House of Quiz
2020 was not the year that anyone expected. The impact of Coronavirus has been hard felt by everyone. With catch-ups cancelled, birthdays belated and holidays put on-hold, it can be difficult to draw the positives out of a truly turbulent period of our lives. However, I firmly believe that change creates opportunity and, with the right mindset, any difficult situation can be turned into something good.
For some of us, one of the surprising gifts of the pandemic has been time. Where normally you might find your days packed with work, commuting, responsibilities and hobbies, you may now find yourself in the same place virtually 24/7 with a surplus of free time to fill. This is the case for me and I wanted to take advantage of what is a unique situation to upskill myself, bring people together and potentially create a new revenue stream. I did this by founding House of Quiz.
The idea began back in March 2020 with a need to fill my recently emptied weekend calendar! I am a big fan of pub quizzes and, pre-COVID, I regularly took part with my friends whenever I could. But, much as I enjoyed pub quizzing, I always felt I could write better versions myself. The quizzes I played were often bland, lacked variety, the questions were inaccessible and they hardly ever included a proper music round. So here was my opportunity! On the very first weekend of the full UK-wide lockdown, I organised a Zoom quiz with a group of friends and hosted the first House of Quiz.
Luckily for me it turned out to be a huge hit. The number of competitors grew each week until I regularly had 25 teams competing from across the globe, for my digital House of Quiz trophy. As a result, despite social distancing and geographical boundaries, we managed to find a great way to stay connected and bring back the fun, music and entertainment that would normally have filled our lives.
That gave me another idea. If my friends and family enjoyed House of Quiz and used it as a way to stay connected, why not make it available to anyone, anywhere to do the same thing? So I set out to develop a brand that would appeal to quizzers, with a website where I could upload the quizzes. A way to provide welcome entertainment for anyone who wanted it.
Not only did House of Quiz become my way of socialising, but it was also a fantastic opportunity to upskill myself. I learned about website development and online marketing, which has proved hugely interesting and rewarding. Hopefully you’ll agree that it’s a great example of turning a difficult situation into something worthwhile. I have also watched nearly everything on Netflix including Tiger King and Emily in Paris, so not all my time has been spent wisely! 😂
Zoom quizzes took off during lockdown, so whilst a quiz website is nothing unusual, the style of House of Quiz is unique. I’m an engineer by background, meaning I wanted to design the quizzes from ground-up. My aim was to make them truly different, enjoyable, and flexible enough to be played whichever way you want.
I wanted to keep the most popular aspects of pub quizzes, whilst putting my own spin on the rounds. So, each round includes bonus questions (worth double). And the final round is the ‘MashUp’, worth double the points of the previous rounds, so even if you’re behind at that point, you can leap up the leaderboard just before the finish!
Always a picture round which can be anything from Fruit and Vegetables to Presidents and Prime Ministers. (People have commented that those two categories are not too different at the moment 😅).
A standard Q&A round that you might find in any typical quiz, with questions from any category.
A special round from 10 different styles, including ‘The Dating Game’, ‘Points Mountain’ and ‘Lucky Strike’. All are incredibly fun whilst still testing your quizzing prowess.
My favourite! A music round with real music! You are given links to Apple Music and Spotify, so the quizmaster simply has to click the link and play the section of the song in each question. (If you don’t have Apple Music/Spotify or you don’t have a quizmaster then that’s not a problem either, you’ll also be given text equivalent questions, so the round can be played without the music too!)
This is the signature MashUp round. You’ll be given a picture clue and a general knowledge question where you must ‘mash’ the answers to both elements together into one single answer. I like to play this round as a race (e.g. a maximum of half the teams can score) or with a time limit (e.g. you only have 15 seconds to answer the question) to crank up the competitive pressure!
I understand it’s a difficult time for everyone at the moment, therefore a huge part of House of Quiz is about providing free entertainment. The site will always have a FreePlay collection of quizzes which will be updated throughout the year. For those of you who can’t get enough, the site also has a ProPlay collection. This collection will be updated more regularly and the quizzes are inexpensive so it won’t break the bank! The quizzes come in a PDF format, where you can play by yourself, as a group, or host the quiz if you’re taking on the role of quizmaster. Whatever your needs, House of Quiz has got you covered!
Hopefully this has given you some inspiration to start your own project in an area that you’re passionate about. There may be no better opportunity than the one we have at the moment!
Or if you’ve found yourself at a loose end because of the ongoing restrictions, head over to House of Quiz for a bit of quizzing fun! It’s a great way to stay connected with friends and family.
Best of luck and here’s to a brighter and better 2021!
More ideas for lockdown entertainment:
Jonathan Murray is a Chartered Engineer in the Energy Industry in Aberdeen.
He studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh.
When not working, Jonathan fills his time with travelling, sport, quizzing and anything with a bit of friendly competition!