Trivial Pursuit

A Trivial Pursuit fan site.

Pursuing Trivia - A Trivial Pursuit Fan Site

Trivial Pursuit is the most popular trivia board game in the world, combining a few standard board game rules with a huge set of general knowledge trivia questions. The end-result is a trivia game with a standard set of rules for determining a trivia champion.

The popularity of Hasbro's board game Trivial Pursuit came as a surprise to the game's original manufacturer. Trivial Pursuit was first produced by Selchow and Righter, the same company responsible for games like Parcheesi and Scrabble. S&R had seen success producing other people's games before--Scrabble was by far their biggest hit and was the creation of an independent game designer looking for a big distributor. Buying games from indie designers and packaging and distributing them was a big part of S&R's business model. But how could Selchow and Righter have known that Trivial Pursuit would sell hundreds of millions of copies in its first two years of existence?

A Trivial Pursuit GameThese days, you can find trivia contests and quizzes in bars, but it wasn't always this way. Before Trivial Pursuit sold copy after copy in the early 80s, trivia was a niche market. Thanks to Trivial Pursuit, the word "trivia" is a big part of the English lexicon.

How to Play Trivial Pursuit

Every game of Trivial Pursuit comes with a game board, playing pieces, trivia cards, game tokens that fit into the playing pieces, and a die. Take away the trivia cards and the game Trivial Pursuit is a fairly standard board game, involving players moving their pieces around to collect tokens before their opponents.

Pieces move around a board based on a roll of the die collecting tokens. The first player to fill up their game piece with tokens wins. You win these six tokens By answering trivia questions on certain board spaces--players who answer questions correctly can continue to move their piece and attempt to answer more questions for tokens. Trivial Pursuit combines the luck of the die roll with a person's general knowledge to determine which of the players is the winner.

The trick is to move as quickly as possible to specific category spaces on the board where answering a question right earns you a token for that category. Six categories and six tokens later, and you have to answer one last question from a category chosen by the other players in the game. Answer this last question right, and you've won. Answer it wrong and you have to try again on your next turn.

What's In a Name?

The name "Trivial Pursuit" is often misunderstood, like the word "trivia" itself. The word trivia came to mean "of little importance or value" around the middle of the 20th century. Up until the 1950s and 1960s, "trivia" referred to the "trivial" liberal arts: grammar, rhetoric, and logic. The word "trivial" just means that there are three of them, like the three horns on a Triceratops or the three wheels of a tricycle. "Trivial" education meant learning about the three basic tops that prepared someone for postgraduate study. Higher education, incidentally, was referred to as the "quadrivia" for the four topics of higher education: music, astronomy, math, and geometry.

Rather than thinking of the game "Trivial Pursuit" as being made up of questions of little importance or value, think of these questions as a general knowledge test--questions that educated people should be able to answer.

Trivial Pursuit Categories

The "standard" game of Trivial Pursuit is known as Genus I, followed by Genus II, etc. Over time, new editions of the standard game have appeared reflecting changes in culture and new information.

The categories in these standard games of Trivial Pursuit are Geography (blue), Entertainment (pink), History (yellow), Arts & Literature (brown), Science & Nature (green), and Sports & Leisure (orange). These categories don't accurately reflect the literal "trivium" of liberal arts, especially Science and Nature, Entertainment, and Sports and Leisure, but they do represent the scope of general knowledge of your average educated 20th century person.

Different version of Trivial Pursuit exist, containing different categories and an emphasis on different sets of knowledge. There are dozens of such editions, ranging from topics like Lord of the Rings, Saturday Night Live, 1960s, etc. Each edition has its own unique categories depending on the scope of that edition.

Trivial Pursuit History

Trivial Pursuit has its roots in trivia, a phenomenon of the 1960s that sprang out of a combination of nostalgia and competition. College students in the 60s would test each other's knowledge of history, current events, and other categories by posing questions. The Columbia University student newspaper was the first to use the word "trivia" referring to these types of questions in an article published in 1965. Trivia contests started around the same time, some of which (especially between Ivy League and Seven Sisters school) continue to this day.

The game was invented by two Canadian journalists who discovered their Scrabble set was missing a few pieces and had to invent their own game to pass the time. The game they invented, based on the new fad of "trivia," would eventually become the game Trivial Pursuit that was the fastest-selling and most popular game of the 1980s.

Trivial Pursuit has as much to do with the new meaning of the word "trivia" as any other factor--how important is it in the long run for a person to know "How many rings make up an arm of the Michelin Man?" People who know the answers to questions like these are said to have a head for "trivia," or "a head full of useless information." By the way, the answer is "four."

This website is dedicated to all things Trivial Pursuit: basic rules, Trivial Pursuit strategy, different Trivial Pursuit editions, online and computer versions, and even cheating methods for those of you who want an edge at your next game of Trivial Pursuit.

Here, you'll be able to learn about different Genus editions of Trivial Pursuit, Trivial Pursuit apps for the iPhone, and the history of the rare and wonderful Trivial Pursuit arcade game. Pursuing Trivia is the most exhaustive source for all things trivial about the Hasbro game Trivial Pursuit.

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