I've been a trivia buff forever, and it seems like my brain has an endless capacity for relatively useless information while it has difficulty remembering important things -- like my name, for instance. With over 3,500,000 articles in the English version of Wikipedia, there's plenty of fodder for gathering information, whether it's real knowledge or just fun trivia.
One thing that always amazes me is the connections that you can find in Wikipedia. For example, many times I've found connections between rock bands while reading about a particular musician. I'll find that one of his or her bandmates in a certain band later leaves to play in another band that I like. Those kind of connections are what the iPhone game 3 Degrees of Wikipedia (US$0.99) by developer Ivan Zhao is all about.
Upon loading the app for the first time, a five-screen tutorial describes how to play the game. You need to solve puzzles that link two Wikipedia pages. The example used in the tutorial has you link the "Halloween" page on Wikipedia to the "Candy" page. How would you do that? Simple -- you'd look for a link to an article on "Trick-or-treating," which would have a link to the "Candy" page.
The puzzles are created by people who are playing the game. Once you solve a game, you're asked to give it a rating -- "Enlightening," "Average," or a "Waste of Time." More enlightening puzzles rise to the top of the list, and the creators earn special "light-bulb points" if their puzzles are considered enlightening by a majority of players.
You can sign in via Facebook and Twitter to share problems that you have created or challenge friends or followers to solve a puzzle. Like many other popular social networking apps such as Foursquare and GetGlue, you can win badges for achieving certain goals.
The app makes good use of the iPhone 4's Retina Display, and takes advantage of excerpts of Wikipedia articles so that gameplay is faster. 3 Degrees of Wikipedia is a fun way to learn interesting facts and remember them through the connections you make. For a buck, I think it's a bargain for a lot of fun. I mean, how else are you going to find a connection between Sauerkraut and Surgery? Check out the gallery links above for a few screenshots of the game in action.
[hat tip to Creative Applications]