Ever wonder who invented trivia board games? It all started with two friends playing Scrabble.
How Trivia Questions Became Popular
The word trivia is not a new word. It has always meant information that is "trivial" or unimportant to most people. It was not until the 1960s that it became popular to know and remember various pieces of trivia.
Who invented trivia board games? Before the board games were created, two students from Columbia University, Ed Goodgold and Dan Carlinsky, started the first quiz bowls based on trivia questions. These contests pitted students of different universities in a challenge to determine which teams could successfully answer the most trivia questions.
Several books have been written about trivia. Ed Goodgold and Dan Carlinsky went on to write Trivia, a New York Times bestseller which was published in 1966. They later wrote several other trivia books including More Trivial Trivia. Fred Worth, a former air traffic controller, wrote The Trivia Encyclopedia in 1974, followed in 1977 with The Complete Unabridged Super Trivia Encyclopedia and Super Trivia, Volume II in 1981. With these new books on the market, the trivia craze was born.
Who Invented Trivia Board Games: The History of Trivial Pursuit
The answer to the question "Who invented trivia board games?" involves two Canadian journalists, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, who in 1979 started the evening playing Scrabble. Their conversation soon turned to the concept of incorporating the new trivia craze with their love of board games. By the end of the evening they found themselves inventing the concept of a board game based on trivia. They named the game Trivial Pursuit.
After testing several prototypes with their friends and family, Chris and Scott realized that they had a potential hit on their hands. They asked two people, a friend and a family member, to join them in the enterprise and share in the ownership. The four owners spent over two years gathering together the 600 trivia questions and answers, finalizing the design of the game board and game pieces and looking for financing.
By the end of 1981, two years after the late night creation of Trivial Pursuit, they had registered the name of the game and secured enough financing to start producing the game in Canada. By the end of 1982, over 100,000 copies of the game had been sold. The game was selling as fast as it could be produced. In the following year over two million more copies of the game were sold.
Twenty Five Years of Success
Trivial Pursuit was introduced in the United States in 1983 and became an instant success. Consumers quickly wanted to have additional trivia questions on a wide variety of subjects to incorporate into their game playing. By 1984 20 million copies of the game had been sold.
Boxes of trivia question cards on a variety of subject areas like sports, baby boomer and movies were introduced which helped keep the game fresh for current game owners. The new questions also enlarged the sales potential to new game owners who had these special interests.
Trivial Pursuit is now available in many configurations including:
- Board game - Over twenty versions of the board game are available in a wide variety of trivia topics including the Trivial Pursuit 25th Anniversary Edition
- Video games - Playstation Trivial Pursuit and the Nintendo Wii Trivial Pursuit
- Hand held game - Trivial Pursuit Digital Choice
Journalism to Sports and Game Design
All four owners of the game, plus the 34 people who invested in the game, earned millions on their investment in Trivial Pursuit. Scott and Chris both left their journalism careers. Scott became the owner of a Canadian hockey team, and Chris has continued as a game designer.