|Players||2–6 (teams allowed)|
|Setup time||5 minutes|
|Playing time||~120 minutes (varies widely)|
|Random chance||Medium (dice)|
|Skill(s) required||General knowledge, knowledge of popular culture|
Trivial Pursuit is a board game in which progress is determined by a player's ability to answer general knowledge and popular culture questions. The game was created in December 1979 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, by Canadian Chris Haney, a photo editor for Montreal's The Gazette, and Scott Abbott, a sports editor for The Canadian Press. After finding pieces of their Scrabble game missing, they decided to create their own game. With the help of John Haney and Ed Werner, they completed development of the game, which was released in 1982.
In North America, the game's popularity peaked in 1984, a year in which over 20 million games were sold. The rights to the game were initially licensed to Selchow and Righter in 1982, then to Parker Brothers (now part of Hasbro) in 1988, after initially being turned down by the Virgin Group; in 2008, Hasbro bought out the rights in full, for US$80 million. As of 2004[update], nearly 88 million games had been sold in 26 countries and 17 languages. Northern Plastics of Elroy, Wisconsin produced 30,000,000 games between 1983 and 1985. An online version of Trivial Pursuit was launched in September 2003.
Dozens of question sets have been released for the game. The question cards are organized into themes; for instance, in the standard Genus question set, questions in green deal with science and nature. Some question sets have been designed for younger players, and others for a specific time period or as promotional tie-ins (such as Star Wars, Saturday Night Live, and The Lord of the Rings movies).
The object of the game is to move around the board by correctly answering trivia questions. Questions are split into six categories, with each one having its own color to identify itself; in the classic version of Trivial Pursuit, the Genus edition, these are Geography (blue), Entertainment (pink), History (yellow), Arts & Literature (brown), Science & Nature (green), and Sports & Leisure (orange). The game includes: a board, playing pieces, question cards, a box, small plastic wedges to fit into the playing pieces, and a die.
Playing pieces used in Trivial Pursuit are round and divided into six sections. A small, plastic wedge can be placed into each of these sections to signify when a question from a certain category has been correctly answered.
During the game, players move their playing pieces around a track which is shaped like a wheel with six spokes. This track is divided into spaces of different colors, and the center of the board is a hexagonal shape. At the end of each spoke is a "category headquarters" space. When a player's counter lands on a square, the player answers a question according to the color of the square, which corresponds to one of the six categories. If the player answers the question correctly, their turn continues; if the player's piece was on one of the category headquarters spaces, they collect a wedge of the same color, which fits into their playing piece. Some spaces say "roll again," giving an extra roll of the die to the player. Any number of playing pieces may occupy the same space at the same time. A variant rule ends a player's turn on collecting a wedge, preventing a single knowledgeable player from running away with the game.
Once a player has collected one wedge of each color (to fill up their playing piece), they make their way toward the hexagonal hub and answer a question in a category selected by the other players. If this question is answered correctly, that player wins the game. Otherwise, the player must leave the center of the board and try again on their next turn.
Over the years, numerous editions of Trivial Pursuit have been produced, usually specializing in various fields. The original version is known as the Genus edition (or Genus I). Several other general knowledge editions (such as Genus II) have followed.Some include, Junior Edition (1985), All-Star Sports, Baby Boomers, 1980's, All About the 80's, and 1990's.
Fred Worth lawsuit
In October 1984, Fred L. Worth, author of The Trivia Encyclopedia, Super Trivia, and Super Trivia II, filed a $300 million lawsuit against the distributors of Trivial Pursuit. He claimed that more than a quarter of the questions in the game's Genus Edition had been taken from his books, even to the point of reproducing typographical errors and deliberately placed misinformation. One of the questions in Trivial Pursuit was "What was Columbo's first name?" with the answer "Philip". That information had been fabricated to catch anyone who might try to violate his copyright.
The inventors of Trivial Pursuit acknowledged that Worth's books were among their sources, but argued that this was not improper and that facts are not protected by copyright. The district court judge agreed, ruling in favor of the Trivial Pursuit inventors. The decision was appealed, and in September 1987 the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the ruling. Worth asked the Supreme Court of the United States to review the case, but the Court declined, denying certiorari in March 1988.
David Wall lawsuit
In 1994, David Wall of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, launched a lawsuit against the game's creators. He claimed that in the fall of 1979, he and a friend were hitchhiking near Sydney, Nova Scotia, when they were picked up by Chris Haney. Wall claimed that he told Haney about his idea for the game in detail, including the shape of the markers.
Wall's mother testified she found drawings of his that looked like plans for a Trivial Pursuit-like game, but the drawings had since been destroyed. Wall's friend, who was allegedly hitchhiking with him that day, never testified. Haney said he never met Wall.
Dumbing down accusations
In the United Kingdom, Trivial Pursuit players have complained that recent versions of the game are dumbed down in comparison to previous editions, with easier questions and more focus on celebrities and show business.
A version of Trivial Pursuit, hosted by Wink Martindale, aired on The Family Channel in the United States from 1993 to 1995. A syndicated version entitled Trivial Pursuit: America Plays aired from 2008 to 2009 and was hosted by Christopher Knight. In September 2004, Roger Lodge hosted a sports trivia game show on ESPN titled ESPN Trivial Pursuit, which aired five episodes.
BBC Television produced a Trivial Pursuit game show based on the game in the UK hosted by Rory McGrath. Another British version (with rules/format similar to the Wink Martindale version) was hosted on The Family Channel (now Challenge) by Tony Slattery. Birgit Lechtermann hosted a version for VOX in Germany from 1993 to 1994.
In 1988, a made-for-television movie entitled Breaking all the Rules: The Creation of Trivial Pursuit aired. Treated largely as a comedy, the movie featured the music of Jimmy Buffett and portrayed the creators of the game as three beer-loving Canadians.
You can play Trivial Pursuit as a video game in Xbox.
Home computer games
British software company Domark released a home computer version (billed as Trivial Pursuit: The Computer Game) for multiple formats during the 1980s. This version included pictorial and musical questions but was otherwise mostly faithful to the mechanics of the original board game.
Later, Domark released another version called Trivial Pursuit: A New Beginning, also across multiple formats. This version featured a plot about the dying earth and significantly altered gameplay mechanics.
Entertainments blogging site Trivial Pursuits (www.trivialpursuits.org) is a play on the name of the game, as a dedication to it. The blog, which reports on a variety of cultural topics, was so named as its diversity was reflected in the breadth of knowledge required to excel at the board game. There is no affiliation with Hasbro or the game.
In other media
Trivial Pursuit has been referenced in many films and television episodes. In an episode of Seinfeld titled The Bubble Boy, George Costanza gets into a physical altercation over the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question.
In "Petarded," an episode of Family Guy, the Griffin family chooses Trivial Pursuit as one of their games for a family game night. Because of Peter's stupidity, Lois secretly draws his trivia questions from the Preschool version of the game instead of the normal version. As a result, Peter wins the game and believes he is a genius.
In an episode of Corner Gas, Brent and Hank try to convince Lacey they have never heard of Trivial Pursuit. She believes them and even gets the game from her home and brings it to the Ruby to show Brent and Hank before they tell her it was just a prank.
In "Panickin'," an episode of Absolutely Fabulous, Edina tries to take Saffy's Trivial Pursuit game into her Panic Room. Saffron takes it back from her, and later, when Edina and Patsy are trapped in the Panic Room, they play Trivial Pursuit with Saffy via the security camera system.
The game will play a major part in the upcoming American television situation comedy The Goodwin Games, in which the main characters are given a customized version that was created by their late father as part of an inheritance they stand to receive if they get the questions right.
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- "Trivial Pursuit: A Strange New Beginning". Incredibly Strange Games. 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Trivial Pursuit.|
- Official site
- Exhaustive list of editions
- Trivial Pursuit rules
- Trivial Pursuit at BoardGameGeek
- Inventors and history
- CBC Archives CBC Television on the invention of Trivial Pursuit (1979)