Family Games for the Holidays: ‘kNow!’

kNow!, Image: Sophie Brown
kNow!, Image: Sophie Brown

During October and November, I have been reviewing a selection of new games ideal for families during the holiday season. Today’s pick is kNow!

All the games in this series are easy-to-learn, family-friendly, reasonably-priced, and a whole lot of fun, making them perfect for family get-togethers and playable by everyone from kids to your great-grandma. Check out the Games for the Holidays tag for more.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.

What Is kNow!?

kNow! is a trivia quiz game with a twist. The game is played using the Google Assistant to reveal the answers (and some of the questions too), keeping it up-to-date with changes that may quickly become outdated if printed on a card, although some printed answers are also included to allow the game to be played offline.

kNow! is recommended for 3-6 players age 10+ for the offline version, and for 2-6 players aged 16+ (due to the need for a Google account) for the online version.

Components

  • 220 Double-Sided Cards
  • 6 Player Pawns
  • 1 Sorting Strip
  • 1 Game Board (in 4 Parts)
  • 1 Buzzer
  • Instruction Sheets
kNow! Components, Image: Sophie Brown
kNow! Components, Image: Sophie Brown

Additionally, to play the online version of the game, you will need either a physical Google Assistant (such as a Google Home Mini) or the Google Assistant app on a compatible smart device.

kNow! is designed to resemble the Google logo and uses the four colors from it on a clean white background. This gives the game a very modern, fresh look that I really liked. The cards and board were printed on high-quality cardstock and even the plastic Player Pawns felt more robust and of better quality than many standard game pawns.

The box did contain a lot of wasted space and a large plastic insert—it would be great to see more manufacturers switching to sustainable cardboard inserts in their games—which was a letdown but not an unexpected one.

How Do You Play kNow!?

kNow! Board Setup, Image! Sophie Brown
kNow! Board Setup, Image! Sophie Brown

Setup

Begin by assembling the Game Board by slotting together the four pieces. The words printed on the background should align to help you know how to fit the pieces correctly. The Buzzer is then switched on and placed in the hole in the center of the board.

Next, each player selects a pawn and places it on the blue Intuition space beside the starting arrow. Each player should also find a pen or pencil and some paper to write on.

All players must then decide if they want to play an online or offline version of Know! If this is your first time playing, you will need to split the cards by color, and then split each color into online and offline cards, however, the game box has dedicated storage space for each card type, so this will only need to be done once. Depending on which version of the game you want to play, place the correct card stacks onto the four marked locations of the game board and leave the remaining cards in the box.

kNow! Cards in Storage, Image: Sophie Brown
kNow! Cards in Storage, Image: Sophie Brown

Next, all the players should decide how long they want the game to last. It should take approximately 15 minutes to play each section of the Game Board, with a full circle lasting around one hour. Once everyone has agreed, select that line between Game Board pieces as the finish line.

Finally, one player must be selected as the starting Quiz Master.

Gameplay

A game of kNow! takes place in turns. Each turn, one player is the Quiz Master and reads out a question/mini-game. Once that mini-game has been completed and points awarded, the next player (going clockwise) becomes Quiz Master. The type of question/mini-game played is determined by the color of the space where the current Quiz Master’s pawn is located.

Examples of kNow! Card Types, Image: Sophie Brown
Examples of kNow! Card Types, Image: Sophie Brown

At the start of a turn, the Quiz Master takes the top card from the appropriate colored stack and reads it out loud. If it is a type of mini-game that has not been played before, the Quiz Master can read the rules from the instruction booklet or ask Google to read them aloud instead. The types of mini-games are divided into four categories:

  • Intuition
  • Fun
  • Creativity
  • Knowledge

There are ten different mini-games to play across all categories and versions of the game.

Professor kNow

Many of the card types will ask you to consult Professor kNow for questions and answers. Professor kNow is part of the Google AI, and the correct verbal instructions to access these features are included in the instruction sheets that come with the game.

Knowledge Mini-Games (Green, One Type)

Quick on the Draw Cards, Image: Sophie Brown
Quick on the Draw Cards, Image: Sophie Brown

Quick on the Draw: Online and Offline

  1. The Quiz Master picks a question from the card and reads it out loud.
  2. Players race to press the buzzer, and the first to do so gives their answer.
  3. The Quiz Master then gives the solution by either reading the question to Google (online version) or reading the three answers on the card (offline).
  4. If the player who buzzed in answered correctly, they move two spaces forward. If they were incorrect, every other player moves forward one space.

Intuition Mini-Games (Blue, Two Types)

Guesswork Cards, Image: Sophie Brown
Guesswork Cards, Image: Sophie Brown

Guesswork: Online and Offline

  1. The Quiz Master selects a question from the card and reads it aloud.
  2. Players write down their guess at the answer.
  3. All players read out their answers.
  4. The Quiz Master either asks Google for the answer or reads it from the card.
  5. The closest match moves one space along the game board (ties all move). In a ⅚ player game, the second closest answer also moves one space.
Top Hits Card, Image: Sophie Brown
Top Hits Card, Image: Sophie Brown

Top Hits: Online

  1. The Quiz Master asks Professor Know for a Top Hits task.
  2. Players are given a random word by Google and use it to form a new word. For example, if the word given is “Tree,” players might create “Christmas Tree,” “Treehouse,” or “Entree.” Each player thinks of a word and writes it down.
  3. Once every player has written down a word, each one asks Google for the number of search result hits for their word.
  4. The player with the most hits moves one space—all tied players move the same.

Creativity Mini-Games (Yellow, Two Types)

Up 2 Three Cards, Image: Sophie Brown
Up 2 Three Cards, Image: Sophie Brown

Up 2 Three: Online and Offline

  1. The Quiz Master reads out a question from the card and either asks Google to set a 20-second timer or sets one using a watch or smartphone.
  2. Players write down up to three answers to the question before the timer runs out.
  3. Once the time is up, each player reads out their answers to the group.
  4. The Quiz Master then gives the solution by either reading the question to Google (online version) or reading the three answers on the card (offline).
  5. Players move forward one space for each matching answer they had written down.
Great Question Card, Image: Sophie Brown
Great Question Card, Image: Sophie Brown

Great Question: Online

  1. The Quiz Master selects one of the words or phrases on the card and reads it out loud to the other players.
  2. Each player writes down a question they could ask Google to get it to give the word or phrase on the card as its answer.
  3. Each player then asks Google their question and move forward if Google includes the correct word or phrase in its answer.

Fun Mini-Games (Red, Five Types)

Know It All Card, Image: Sophie Brown
Know It All Card, Image: Sophie Brown

kNow It All: Online

  1. The Quiz Master asks Professor Know for a kNow It All task.
  2. Professor kNow will then read out a question and three possible answers (A, B, and C).
  3. Players quickly write down the letter of the answer they think is correct.
  4. After a few seconds, Professor kNow will reveal the correct solution.
  5. All players who guessed correctly move one space forwards.
Humming It Up Card, Image: Sophie Brown
Humming It Up Card, Image: Sophie Brown

Humming it Up: Offline

  1. The Quiz Master picks a song from the card and attempts to hum it.
  2. Players race to press the buzzer and the first to do so calls out the title of the song.
  3. If the player who buzzed in answered correctly, they move two spaces forward. If they were incorrect, every other player moves forward one space.
Sound by Sound Card, Image: Sophie Brown
Sound by Sound Card, Image: Sophie Brown

Sound by Sound: Online

  1. The Quiz Master asks Professor kNow for a Sound by Sound task and Professor kNow will play a random sound.
  2. Players race to press the buzzer and the first to do so calls out what they think the sound was.
  3. After a few seconds, Professor kNow will tell everyone the correct answer.
  4. If the player who buzzed in answered correctly, they move two spaces forward. If they were incorrect, every other player moves forward one space.
Tripped Up Cards, Image: Sophie Brown
Tripped Up Cards, Image: Sophie Brown

Tripped Up: Online and Offline

  1. The Quiz Master either asks Google to say a random tongue twister (online version) or reads one from the card (offline version).
  2. Players who believe they can repeat the tongue twister three times in a row without making any mistakes race to press the buzzer and the first to do so tries to do it.
  3. If the player who buzzed in manages to read the tongue twister three times without any mistakes, they move two spaces forward. If they fail, every other player moves forward one space.
Phrase-Finder Cards, Image: Sophie Brown
Phrase-Finder Cards, Image: Sophie Brown

Phrase-Finder: Online and Offline

  1. The Quiz Master either asks Professor kNow for a Phrase-Finder task (online version) or chooses one from the cards and reads the top part aloud (offline version).
  2. Players race to press the buzzer and the first to do so calls out what they think the missing part of the phrase is.
  3. After a few seconds, professor kNow will say the complete turn or phrase or the Quiz Master should read it out.
  4. If the player who buzzed in answered correctly, they move two spaces forward. If they were incorrect, every other player moves forward one space.

Winning the Game

The first player to cross the agreed-upon finish line is the winner.

Should You Buy kNow!?

kNow! is an interesting game that will certainly have people curious if you bring it along to any family gatherings over the holidays. The offline version is a fairly generic trivia/party game in classic style with standard question cards and more unusual activities like guessing a hummed tune, but it’s the online version that really sells kNow! and so that’s what I’m going to focus on here.

One of the biggest issues with trivia games has always been how fast the answers become outdated, and it is this that kNow! strives to solve through using the Google Assistant. Instead of a printed answer on a card that may well already be incorrect by the time has gone to print, the Google AI will constantly pull down the latest information in real-time, so your answers will remain up-to-date for as long as the technology is supported. That, of course, is a question no one knows the answer to, but given that Google made nearly $40 billion in profit over 2018, I doubt they will be going away any time soon.

Asking Professor kNow Questions on the Google Assistant App, Screenshots: Sophie Brown
Asking Professor kNow Questions on the Google Assistant App, Screenshots: Sophie Brown

Another big plus point for kNow! is that the style of the online questions allows many to be altered by the Quiz Master during the game. For example, a question card that asks what the current temperature in Honolulu is could be altered to any location across the world. This means you have access to effectively infinite questions and takes away the second big problem with trivia games, which is that once played a few times, you can easily memorize the answers. With kNow! that issue can be easily negated, which gives the game significantly increased longevity.

Of course, there are some issues, key among which is the technology of the Google AI itself. As anyone who has attempted to use technology around their parents or in a meeting will know, things inevitably don’t work properly, and by using it as part of the game, you will probably run up against problems. We occasionally found that we could get a sensible answer out of the Google Assistant no matter how we phrased a question, and instead, we had to give up and try a different one. It’s not a game-breaking problem but it is an annoyance, and will almost certainly result in an elderly relative muttering about “modern technology” during the game.

While it’s not the most exciting game I’ve ever played, the wide range of question styles in kNow! will make it ideal for multi-generational gatherings. The game is an ideal alternative to Trivial Pursuit this holiday season and should get everyone around the table joining in with the fun.

GeekMom received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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