Slowly but surely, Sony's plan to woo the casual gamer is starting to become clear. Drawing obvious, yet understandable inspiration from proven internet concepts, it's now pushing the trendy idea of user-created content far more aggressively than their rivals. There's SingStar, of course, with its YouTubey karaoke video uploads. Eventually there'll be LittleBigPlanet with its drag-and-drop physics playground. And here we have Buzz! Quiz TV, the PS3 debut of Sony's mammoth quiz franchise. The nuts and bolts of the game should be familiar to most fans - Jason Donovan returns as Buzz, the smarmy host - and will be covered when the time comes to dust off the review trousers. For now we'll be taking an early look at the new features added for the PS3.
Anyone who's ever dabbled in Facebook and been inundated with "ZOMG Try my awesome harry Potter Quiz!!!!!" messages can probably guess what the integration of online means for quiz fans. Yes, you can now create your own quizzes, which then get added to a central database from whence they can be played and rated by other Buzz players. At the moment you can only rate quizzes on a general "how good is it?" four-star scale, and I can't help feeling that maybe some way of rating the difficulty as well might help players find their preferred level of challenge as the database fills up.
The quiz creation tool is simple and intuitive, although it can't be accessed from within the game itself. Instead you head to the special Buzz website - you can use a USB keyboard and the PS3 browser, if you don't like moving from the sofa - and get to work. Each quiz is made up of eight multiple-choice questions, which feels a little on the light side (why not a nice round ten?) but should still provide ample opportunity to placate the budding quizmaster in most people. The number of characters allowed sometimes feels a little stingy, forcing you to rethink the phrasing of your questions, but when you consider it all has to fit into the allocated text space in the game it's an understandable compromise.
There's not a lot of room to improvise or stamp too much personality on your creations, but this ultimately helps create a uniform template that keeps everything coherent. Given the sprawling horrors that crop up on Facebook, a little forced brevity could prove to be a shrewd idea. There's no option to add pictures to your quiz, either, which seems a shame but then you realise the legal and logistical nightmare that would follow when people started uploading copyrighted material or "identify the pornstar tits" quizzes. Or worse. So, multiple-choice text questions it is.
Once created, you can assign your quizzes by subject, but there's an impressive selection of sub-categories that break things down even more specifically. So, for example, if you were worried that your highbrow quiz about the French New Wave would get swamped by questions about Adam Sandler movies, don't worry - there are separate categories for blockbusters, movie history, specific movies, celebrities and so on. You can also decide whether you want your quiz to be just for personal use, available to your friends or open to everyone. Quizzes can also be flagged from mature content, and you can report any transgressors that peddle muck in the name of entertainment.
Of course, once your quiz is submitted, you can scoot back to the game and play it on the PS3 - or have a search around and see what other people have been coming up with. Quizzes can be added to a favourites list - both in game and on the website - so you can sneakily line up your evening's entertainment (and crib the answers, I suppose) while at work. It certainly excites the trivia gene that I suspect most of us share, and if you ever dreamed of hosting a pub quiz, or just bamboozling your family with arcane facts, it's easy to spend many happy hours dreaming up new ideas for quizzes. There's certainly plenty of incentive to see if you can be the most prolific, or most popular, quiz-maker.