I Can't Stop Playing This Wikipedia History Game

I spent my entire morning playing this game where you sort historical events on a timeline.

WikiTrivia is a deceptively simple game that has consumed my entire morning. Wordle is fun, but it’s over quickly. WikiTrivia you can play over and over again. Players sort random events in history along a timeline. When the game opens, you have one event and you’re asked to place another either before or after the first event occurred. Did Philip the Apostle die before or after the sitcom New Girl completed its run?


WikiTrivia starts easy, but as the game goes on the dates get tighter and things get harder. It’s also punishingly random. I had one game that asked me to order the start date of three game consoles before plunging into the depths of history. How was I to know that the Mughal Empire was founded after the founding of the Stavnger municipality in Norway?

The game lets you make three mistakes before it ends. It also keeps track of your best streaks. My current streak is 12. Both of my editors have streaks of 13. This eats at my guts and forces me to play another round after every sentence I type, yearning to beat them at the game before I publish this blog. I just lost another game because I didn’t know that journalist Theodor Herzl was born after the publishing of The Lady of Shalott but before the birth of Javier Bardem.

This game also eats your time by sending you down Wikipedia rabbit holes. It generates each game pulling data from Wikipedia and Wikidata, so every entry has an attendant article you can dive into. I just learned a little about Constantine XI Palaigos, the last reigning Byzantine Empire thanks to WikiTrivia.

WikiTrivia is rough around the edges. In one of my games, it dated the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire as occurring in year 1. In another game, a colleague was told that the Puma clothing brand was founded in the year 0. Sometimes pictures or factoids don’t load. The game is the work of software engineer Tom James Watson, and he keeps track of the game's various bugs on a Github page. He’s slowly working through them, always improving it.

As Watson seeks to refine and improve WikiTrivia, I too seek to improve my streak. The small bugs don’t stop me from playing it. Every time I tab over to the screen to pull a piece of information, find a link, or take a screenshot for this blog, I find myself playing another round. I'm convinced, if I try one more time, I can beat my bosses’ streaks.

Just one more game.