Akinator, the Web Genie (formerly Akinator, the web Genius) is an internet game and mobile app based on Twenty Questions that can attempt to determine which character the player is thinking of by asking him or her a series of questions. It is an artificial intelligence program that can find and learn the best questions to be asked to the player. Created by three French programmers in 2007, it became popular in November 2008, according to Google Trends. While playing “Akinator, the Web Genie” the questions are asked by a cartoon genie. The game became famous in Europe in 2009 and Japan in 2010 with the launch of mobile apps by French mobile company SCIMOB, reaching highest ranks on app store.
In order to begin the questionnaire, the user must hit the play button and think of a popular character (musician, athlete, political personality, actor, fictional film/tv character, YouTuber, Viner etc). Then, it begins asking a series of 25 questions, with “Yes”, “No”, “Probably”, “Probably not” and “Don’t know” as possible answers, in order to narrow down the potential character that the user is thinking of. If the answer is narrowed down to a single likely option before 25 questions are asked, the program will automatically ask if the character it chose is correct. If the character is guessed wrong three times in a row, then the program will prompt the user to input the character’s name, in order to expand its database of choices. It predicts the answer based on the tree match algorithm.
L’Express rated Akinator a 5 out of 5 on their list of iPhone Apps of the Week for September 9, 2009. Excite France stated that Akinator “is just that interactive. It is revolutionary, attractive, and entertaining.”