I appreciate trivia and tidbits of knowledge that I most likely will never use in my lifetime. But I think I also have just a mediocre memory, so although I enjoy learning trivial facts, I mostly only remember them sporadically when I try to call them up again from the deep vault of my brain bank. That doesn’t really affect my aspiration to collect data, it just frustrates me while playing board games.
I think I’m a smart enough person, but being good at trivia is a different kind of animal. I know plenty of people who are smart but who are lousy at trivia, and even some people who seem to have a knack for hanging on to random facts but who otherwise don’t seem to be particularly intelligent. I see it sort of like the kids in your class who were good test takers versus the kids who were genuinely intelligent (and yes, I say that on behalf of academic underachievers everywhere). But my point is that success in the one arena doesn’t necessarily imply success in the other — granted, there’s definitely a necessary overlap, but you get what I’m saying. And on a personal note, I must add that it’s especially frustrating for me when I know that I know something but I can’t extract the answer from my head. With my less-than-stellar memory, this seems to happen to me a lot, and so if you happen to be hiding in my bushes while I’m watching Jeopardy! you’ll notice me yelling “daaaah!” at my TV a lot as answers are revealed.
And speaking of Jeopardy!, it’s hard to write a post about trivia and not mention what an enjoyable show that is. I hope it continues to be enough of a moneymaker to remain on the air for another 25 years, and only pray that when Alex Trebek passes the torch it won’t be to someone even more condescending. I do find it interesting though that other networks haven’t put more effort into stealing the idea and airing quality trivia programmes of their own. Sure, there have been other trivia shows — Who Wants to be a Millionaire was wildly popular for a while — but no fast-paced shows with lots of solid, intellectual questions. No need for fluff or heavy budgets, just well-researched questions and answers. This is why In the Know is entertaining despite having the production quality of a discarded junior high A/V project.
Trivial Pursuit is another example of a fun, fact-based success that doesn’t seem to be cloned well, but that exemplifies the simplicity that makes trivia work — it’s a deck of cards with questions that are mostly fairly difficult. And it retails for $30, so why don’t we have a bunch of games like this on the market? Are we short on facts to quiz each other on?
Apparently not. Some people make up their own for others to enjoy (or at least steal them from questionable online sources). For over a year now some friends and I have been doing the weekly trivia night at a pub in town. This has proven most enjoyable, and was an excellent suggestion by Scott. It’s also been fairly rewarding so far, resulting in lots of free food and drink (although I still hate to think about how much we’ve spent there during our weekly endeavors to win these gift certificate prizes). But it’s a good time. There are good questions, some bad questions, lots of chuckles, annoying music and greasy food, and coming up with fresh team names each week is good practice for naming that death metal/polka band I’ve been meaning to start up someday.
(Note: I went ahead and moved various Jeopardy! and general trivia-related comments to this thread.)