Trivia Games 101

History of Trivia Games

What do humans learn that makes them able to thrive? Information! This combination of question and answer itself can known as a trivium or a singular piece of trivia. Trivium originally started as the study of grammar, logic and rhetoric in Medieval Europe. Trivia Games soon populated academies

The first usage of the word trivia comes from 1589, used to define insignificant pieces of information, usually only known by the educated higher class. It wasn’t until 1918 did the term really become popular. Logan Pearsall Smith wrote Trivialities: Bits of Information of Little Consequence in 1902 and was the first to use the term trivia as it is known today.

The popularity of trivia games owes itself to the popularity of TV, when shows lite Dotto, Twenty One and The $64,000 Question were published in the 1950’s they became immediate favorites. Unfortunately in 1959 the press discovered that the producers of these shows had planned every moment, even giving answers to the players. The Quiz Show Scandals (or Quiz-Gate in current lingo) resulted in the shows disappearance until Merv Griffen reintroduced Jeopardy in 1982.

In the mean time Quiz Bowls became popularized at many major universities and are still around today. The creators of the Quiz Bowl, went on to publish the 1966 bestselling book Trivia. The US declared January 4th a national trivia day, which it shares with national Missouri and Spaghetti days.

Trivial Pursuit was invented in 1979 by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott while drinking a few beers. Releasing in 1982 the success was unimaginable by both creating parties and every game producer everywhere. As of 2017 Trivial Pursuit has been played by 1/6th of people on the entire planet! Trivial Pursuit itself plagiarized multiple other trivia books at the time, but won it’s case when courts ruled trivia facts cannot be copyrighted.

Basics of Trivia Games

Trivia is an interesting thing, you may play impromptu trivia with your family/co-workers and not even realize it. Learning is an important aspect of humanity, and trivia allows you to learn things in a quick and easy way. In my experience when business professionals talk about gamification they typically mean trivia. It is the go to way of learning in a new field. If you don’t get the question right you learn the answer by failing.

HR questionnaires and choose your own adventures are technically both sets of trivia games done for extremely differing reasons. In between we have all sorts of trivia games. Crossword puzzles proliferate every major newspaper. Almost any major city hosts a Geeks Who Drink nightly while sporting events show trivia during breaks. Trivia board games usually focus on an answer and move system (similar to roll and move games.)

The issue becomes on the data and repetitiveness of trivia, if you load up a trivia game from 1995 the information will be highly off from current standards. Culture and information change quicker everyday, what might of been trivia in the 1950’s is commonplace today. This is extremely evident when watching old versions of Jeopardy. In essence it all boils down to asking questions that the majority of people don’t know. Because of this most pop culture trivia games are online so that the questions can change with the time.

Learning Benefits of Trivia Games

Knowledge Acclimation – Obviously the central parts of trivia games is learning facts. Disussing these facts with others futher exposes learning.

Learning Differences – Trivia games help realize that people of other backgrounds may have more beneficial knowledge about a subject. This reinforces the major tenants of successful teamwork.

Sportsmanship – Because the games are based on knowledge a good trivia game will have many topics. By reducing the game play to knowledge based questions it teaches that winners are really those that learn.

Personal Experience

My grandpa use to have a copy of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune board games that I still adore. My mom bought me a handheld Jeopardy digital game early. I participated in brain-bowl twice during middle school and although it was fun, it was also quite nerve-wracking. I was never a huge fan of Trivial Pursuit but probably because my mother and I liked Pictonary so much.

As of current I haven’t gone to far into the physical realm of trivia games, typical digital forms just seems easier. The You Don’t Know Jack /Jackbox Games franchise is an teenage/adult trivia video game that has always been one of my favorites, starting in 1995. It has a mixture of trivia and other fun multiplayer games. Another digital trivia game to love is Heads Up! created by Ellen DeGeneres. Both are easy to play with friends, and are easy to pick up.

In the physical form I really like Logo Trivia which is child friendly. On the other side of that is Smart Ass which as the name implies has a slightly more raunchy theme. I’ve only played Play Monster 5 Second Rule once but is a game on my must buy list (It’s becoming a long list).

Will you like it?

I would think that this point in your life you know if you like trivia games, but their are many mediums to try them on and I suggest you try a few before you shrug them off. Replay ability of most trivia games is limited in the amount of questions they ask.

Some games are themed around a particular topic which is fun but typically means whoever geeks out on the subject the most will probably win. I would suggest staying away from these unless it’s a theme you enjoy. Graphic wise most trivia games are pretty similar at their core. The gravity of these games is typically low, so great if you just want to learn.

They’re also many games that focus on trivia but don’t really have the greatest game functionality. Luckily if the trivia is actually good you can usually bypass mechanics that aren’t really fun. Like knowledge, achievement and mastery are the real goals which is its own fun.

Further Reading

A Short History of Trivia

National Trivia Day

Tricky Trivia

Famous Trivia

Kyle Author

Hi I'm Kyle! I'm a MBA graduate that loves creating and playing games of all types. I created this site to help people keep up-to date on games I'm making as well as review games I love. Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments, questions or suggestions. Stay Amazing, Always!


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