Trivial pursuits

trivialpursuitcardsThe release of the board game Trivial Pursuit was a sort of touchstone for my life, good or bad.

When it came out in the early 1980s, I was enthralled because I was a bit of a know-it-all. Then Jeopardy! arrived on the scene not long after (I was too young to remember the original show, and I don’t recall its brief syndicated revival in the late 1970s), and it just reinforced my love of question-and-answer game shows that had been previously fed by more facile versions like Tic-Tac-Dough and The Joker’s Wild where the questions were only part of the game and luck was still a factor.

Between the two, I became a true trivia junkie and loved the idea of learning things, then answering questions in a competitive setting. I watched Jeopardy! religiously (I also watched its companion show in syndication, Wheel of Fortune, until my parents made me stop because I would solve the puzzles after just a letter or two, but by that point was bored with it anyway and thought the contestants were just getting dumber), and loved playing Trivial Pursuit at every turn.

There really wasn’t an outlet in high school to feed the beast, though I did do a humorous presentation in speech class (at least it was intended to be humorous) on how to win at Trivial Pursuit. When I got to college, I found College Bowl and quickly became part of a team that would win the campus tournament and go to regionals three times in four years.

When I returned home to finish college, I briefly found my first bar trivia night but it was so far from home that it became impractical to do on a regular basis. Then came NTN Trivia, which became an interactive bar phenomenon in the mid 1990s and made me spend more time (and money) in bars than I ever had before. It’s still around under the name Buzztime, but in far fewer locations.

I hadn’t played in years and don’t think I realized just how much I missed it until my friend Carly introduced me to Quizzo at a local bar near where she lived. I joined her team last year, and we’ve made it a regular Thursday habit for several months now.

We’ve been the most constant two members of the team, but have begun to find more like-minded people to commit on a more regular basis and compete with a couple of the powerhouse teams at our location. The competition is strong, and the categories and questions are varied and require a wide range of knowledge (there’s even a musical round each week), and that plus the competition makes it as fun as anything about it.

We’ve only won one week, with one of our bigger teams, and we finished second in that five-week contest (the weekly contests make up the larger contest, which thus include rotating rounds like Survey Says, Common Bonds, and so forth). I feel like some of the description might be getting a little dry for some, but by the same token it’s those little details that help make it so enjoyable for me.

I’ve enjoyed it so much I’ve started trying to play as much as I can a second day a week with other friends at another bar. It’s probably a good thing it’s not easier to play every night. It’s probably silly to a lot of people, but to have a group of people who have a common goal, enjoy a fun competition and an evening together doesn’t seem to be a trivial pursuit to me.


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