Have you ever stayed up late at night, bouncing from article to article on Wikipedia? Perhaps it began as a cursory glance into the history of Power Rangers and, somehow, ended with you bleary-eyed at 3AM reading about the Russian Revolution. Now you can still do that, but as a game.
Unofficially, the “Wikipedia Game” has existed ever since people started forgoing sleep to look up articles about anime. Starting at an innocuous article and ending up reading about cults or fertility idols or confidence tricks is one of the purest forms of wasting time on the internet.
There’s also already a Wikipedia page that lays out rules for a more structured version of this game, where you count how many clicks it takes to get from one topic to another unrelated topic.
Glitch Wikipedia is an even more official version of this game. It sucked me into the same Wikipedia hole that I enter when I’m plagued by insomnia, which may or may not be a good thing.
The game gives you two unrelated topics, and then asks you to try to go from one to the other with the fewest possible number of articles in between. Instead of making you read all those articles, the game presents you with a series of links that would have appeared in the article.
In my first go around, I failed to find the path from Russia to Harry, Prince of Wales. After floundering through several links about the British Empire, British Monarchs and the United Kingdom, I admitted my defeat. My second attempt at connecting World War II to Sparta was much easier. I could practically see the links in my head. I clicked on Italy, then Ancient Rome, then Ancient Greece, then I was home free.
As a person who recently overcame her fear of bar trivia and now enjoys it, Glitch Wikipedia gave me the similarly pleasant effect of reminding me how much minutia I’ve crammed into my brain. At first, linking Rihanna’s album “Loud” to Association Football sounds daunting, until you see a link for albums that charted in the UK.
The game does miss some of the charm of just doing this exploration manually, though, and it removes the potential benefit of actually reading the articles and learning something new. How else would I learn way, way too much about Aum Shinrikyo?