Which came first, the founding of Siemens or the reconstruction of the Palace Of Westminster? And was Finland established as an independent state before or after the birth of Mexican film actress Dolores del Rio?
The answers are “Siemens” and “after”, respectively. These are things I have learned today while playing WikiTrivia, a free browser game by Tom Watson which pulls historical dates from WikiData and challenges you to put them in the correct order.
The historical events are represented as cards, telling you the subject (“Bosporan Kingdom”, “Russian Civil War”, “Nero Claudius Drusus”) and the type of date it’s looking for (“Created”, “Ended”, “Born”). You then drag the card onto a timeline, slotting it in between your previously placed events. Get it wrong and the card turns red; get it wrong three times and it’s game over.
Personally, it turns out I’m alright with the basic order of human history. I can separate figures by centuries, and place civilizations in the correct order. That’s partly because each card has a picture on it, and fashion, photography, and printing quality all offer clues.
The more cards you have on your timeline, the more likely you’ll need to make more specific decisions. I know that John Everett Millais’ Ophelia was painted sometime in the 19th century (1851), but was it before or after the founding of Colgate (1873)? My best score so far is 13, which might just be as far as estimates and guesswork can take me.
This is the kind of game where I don’t mind getting answers wrong, anyway. Correct answers are revealed when you make a mistake, and clicking placed cards will reveal a relevant Wikipedia link. I’m learning while I play. For example, did you know that Marisa Tomei is older that Martin Lawrence? Wild.
You can play WikiTrivia here. It’s open source and its developer is soliciting feedback to help find any incorrect cards.