Computer lab was one of my favorite classes growing up, for exactly the reason you’d expect. Between typing tests and learning to use Microsoft Word we had free time, and that meant one thing: Flash games.
Flash was our bread and butter and the basis for many of our favorite games, from poptropica a club Penguin Y Webkinz. When the sites that hosted them were eventually banned from our school computers because we spent too much time on them, we moved on to Flash compilation sites, like Cool Math Games. There were a lot of class favorites like Fireboy and Watergirl and Crazy Taxi. But what really caught our attention was the impossible quiz.
the impossible quiz It consisted of 110 questions. What made it “impossible” was that the questions were obtuse and puzzle-like. For example, the second question was “Can a box of matches?” It is a multiple choice question with the answers “Yes”, “No”, “Yes, one beat Mike Tyson”, and the correct answer, “No, but a can”. If you got the answer wrong, a loud bomb sound was heard and the game took one of your three lives. At some points, you could earn arrows that allow you to skip questions. The game also featured plenty of poop jokes, which was perfect for our burgeoning nervous minds.
Looking back, it’s clear to me that this was the first “rage” game I encountered. A quiz was supposed to be logical and have answers that made sense. But the impossible quiz he operated with his own brand of logic. The quiz was intentionally antagonistic to the player, as Get over it with Bennett Foddy either Unfair Mario, the kind of thing that would make a YouTuber jump out of his chair and start screaming. It would have been impossible for a single child to beat him in the allotted 10 minutes of free time. But what I was It was possible that several children worked together over the years to defeat him.
He was a phenomenon in class. At any given time, there could be eight children on different computers playing the impossible quiz, young minds at work. We were always trying to see who could go the furthest. While this was competitive, it also resulted in some weird group collaboration. Because the questions made no sense to us, the only way forward was to memorize as many correct answers as we could. By watching each other play, we learned the answers to the riddles and practiced memorizing them. I remember playing the impossible quiz while another kid coached me on over-the-shoulder responses, telling me when to strategically use my jump arrows. (Spoiler alert: this would later bite us in the butt when the last question required using all seven jumps.)
so to win the impossible quizNot counting the three lives and jump arrows, you had to memorize the answers to 110 Flash game puzzles. Even with the combined forces of several 9-year-old minds, this was no easy task. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was years before some of us were able to beat him.
I returned to the impossible quiz as an adult to see how the game compared to my memory. I hit level 46 and was pleasantly surprised that I still knew some of the initial head game answers. I guess all that memorization was not in vain. There is something satisfying about that work bearing fruit. That is, until you come up with an answer you don’t know, but that just means you need to memorize that glitch for future. It’s almost like playing a roguelike in that my main skill was the unrepentant need to keep trying. I think many other people in my class must have shared this sentiment, or else we never would have gotten this far.
The computer lab was a unique environment that was conducive to collaboration even though we were playing individually. I wouldn’t have had the drive to complete the impossible quiz if I hadn’t had other people in my lab, both to compete and to work with. Maybe the computer lab can change the way we play and cooperate with each other. Or maybe kids love Flash games with poop jokes.