Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit

Synopsis of Toy

Finally, a game for those of us who knew more about useless topics than any human being had a right to. Those thick-necked kids who started shaving at age nine may have been able to whip us at football, baseball, basketball—okay, pretty much anything involving a ball—but sit them down around the kitchen table for a game of Trivial Pursuit and we’d see who was boss (nostalgia assumes no responsibility for beatings that may result from showing those thick-necked kids who’s boss).

“Trivia” actually means “unimportant information,” but in the context of this game, it was life or death. Created in 1981, Trivial Pursuit was a board game with a slight bit of luck (a die roll determined your token’s movement around the spoked-wheel playing field), but with the emphasis on tapping those vast stores of logic trapped inside your gray matter. Each of the spaces on the board was one of six colors, corresponding to a category of question—Geography (blue), Science and Nature (green), Sports and Leisure (orange), History (yellow), Entertainment (pink) or Arts and Literature (brown). One of the other players (or teams) asked the corresponding question on one of the hundreds of included question cards. A right answer meant another roll of the dice and another question. A wrong answer, and the next player took control.

The object of the game was to fill up your pie-shaped playing piece with wedges in each of the colors. As yet another twist, these pieces could only be won on a space illustrated with that pie piece—and there was only one per color on the whole board. Players circled the wheel endlessly, screaming in frustration when that stupid die wouldn’t roll right to get them into that last stupid spot for that last stupid wedge (and then when they finally did get in, if they got the stupid question wrong, oh, the tragic comedy). With all wedges in place, players headed for the center of the board, where their cutthroat opponents were allowed to pick the topic of the final, game-winning question (“He’s dumb in history. Give him a yellow!”).

At parties, at family get-togethers, even as a schoolroom funtime activity, Trivial Pursuit was always maniacally intense. The game caught on quickly, passing briefly into fad status in the early 80’s as trivia buffs were suddenly crowned kings of the game table. Several sets of alternate cards and new gameboards were produced—Silver Screen, All-Star Sports, Baby Boomer and so on—and the less world-wise were even thrown a bone with a Young Players Edition. And to put this argument finally to rest, the name of the original set was “Genus” (meaning “a group with common characteristics”), not “Genius” (meaning “smart folk”).

The Trivial Pursuit fad cooled off a bit after a few years, but it didn’t matter. The game had already passed into the ranks of timeless classics, joining the ranks of Monopoly, Clue and Scrabble as must-haves for any home’s game closet. New editions continue to be produced, covering topics as specific as Warner Bros., Disney and Star Wars. And somewhere, at this very moment, there’s a budding genius (not genus) begging anyone who’ll listen to sit down for a quick game and a chance to show the world that knowledge really is power—not the kind of power that wins football games, but keep at it kid. One day you’ll be able to buy and sell them all.

Release History of Toy

1981 - Trivial Pursuit

Sub Categories of Toys

board games

Toy and Game Manufacturer

Horn Abbot Ltd., Parker Brothers

Other Toy Links