Few boardgames have hit with the splash, and had the cultural altering impact, that Trivial Pursuit has enjoyed.
This is a game which has really become a foundation for an entire family of games based on the simple premise of asking and answering questions to succeed.
Again it's one of those simple game premises that makes one wonder they didn't think of it. Well at least in the case of Trivial Pursuit it was a couple of Canadians who had the brainwave.
Trivial Pursuit was first conceived on December 15, 1979 by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott. At the time, Chris Haney worked as a photo editor at the Montreal Gazette, and Scott Abbott was a sports journalist for The Canadian Press. The story has it that the pair came up with the basic concept of Trivial Pursuit within a few short hours after playing a game of Scrabble and deciding they should invent their own game.
While created in 1979, it was not until 1981 that the board game was commercially released.
The initial release was self-produced in Canada after fund raising by selling shares to friends and family. The game was popular enough to draw interest from Selchow and Righter a major U.S. game manufacturer and distributor in 1983.
The game is now sold under the label of Parker Brothers.
So the game is simple, six categories covering general areas of knowledge such as sports, or geography. Answer the questions correctly you move your playing piece around the board, and in key locations earn tokens. Collect the token for each knowledge category and get to the centre of the board first to win.
The game caught on huge, no doubt connecting with the same basic attraction people have had to the popular television show Jeopardy.
People enjoy knowledge and trivia, and as a party, or family game, Trivial Pursuit fits the bill ideally.
The game was so popular initially Time magazine called it the "the biggest phenomenon in game history,” and in December 1993, Trivial Pursuit was named to the "Games Hall of Fame" by Games magazine.
Trivial Pursuit has become huge, with numerous editions published since 1983, some specific to certain popular trivia topics such as a version with questions just on sports, and another where all the questions relate to movies and film.
Other editions highlight certain eras of history, or like the Millennium edition, update things considering the game was first released 27 years ago. One can expect a fairly major thrust for the game in 2011, to mark its 30th anniversary one would think.
With all the different editions no one can gain an advantage by memorizing the material, and if they can manage to keep all the answers in their head, they really deserve to win anyway *smile.
While the game can be somewhat overwhelming for those who do not easily retain the minutia of trivia, that can be overcome by playing in pairs.
This is a classic idea from a game which really did completely infiltrate modern culture in a way few, if any modern game has. Versions can often be found in thrift stores cheap, so if you haven't tried it, grab one, it's a ton of fun and you learn a few things along the way too.
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Sept. 10, 2008 - Yorkton, SK. Canada