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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Trivial Pursuit

Hey, everybody!  I hope you're ready for another edition of the anything goes feature known as the Whatever Wednesday piece.  And, for today's entry, I'm letting you know ahead of time that this is going to be one of those "can I write an entire blog entry in just three hours" kind of deals.  I've done it before, and I'm sure I can do it again.  I just have to draw the right card in order to make it happen.

So, let's make it happen right now, shall we?

Hmm...well, it looks as though I have drawn the Mr. Green card for today.  This means that we'll be taking a look at some sort of game that kids (and some adults) like to play with.

But what sort of thing am I going to talk about today?  I need to find some sort of game that I can talk about in an interesting manner while keeping in mind that I only have a limited amount of time to talk about it.  Oh, what do I talk about?

You see, this is one of those moments where you're playing that trivia game where you go around a board looking to fill up your little wheel with colourful wedges in hopes of being crowned the king (or queen) of trivia and you need that one final wedge, and you don't know what the answer to the question is.  It's almost like trying to find a topic for today's blog piece.  Oh, what is that game called?

Ah, yes.  Thank you random YouTube video!  Trivial Pursuit.  Anyway, I need to find a topic for today so that I don't waste any time trying to brainstorm ideas and...

...WAIT A MINUTE!  That's it!  Why don't I just do a blog on Trivial Pursuit!  After all, everyone's played the game at least once in their lives, right?  And, it was the most popular board game of the 1980s, which some would call the height of the trivia game era.  

Yes, that settles it.  Trivial Pursuit it is!

Now, everybody knows what the game is all about.  The game is played with as little as two players, but as many as six, and each playing piece looks like this.

Kind of resembles a miniature pie, doesn't it?

Anyway, the goal of the game is to roll the die and move around the board so that you land on a coloured square.  Each colour represents a different subject (kind of similar to each Clue suspect card represents a different theme day on the Whatever Wednesday blog entries).  And, just to clarify, depending on the version of Trivial Pursuit you are playing, these subjects can change.  But if you're playing the original version, these are the six colours, as well as the subjects they represent.

BLUE - Geography
PINK - Entertainment
YELLOW - History
BROWN - Arts & Literature
GREEN - Science & Nature
ORANGE - Sports & Leisure

Okay, so ideally what you want to do is answer all six categories correctly in six consecutive turns and win the game in about as long as it takes to heat up a frozen pizza in the oven.  But the funny thing about Trivial Pursuit is that more often than not, you'll likely land on four consecutive green spaces and you will be forced to answer those questions before you land on the brown square that you absolutely need to win the game.

And, for those of us who are more knowledgeable in some topics than others, that could be one of the most frustrating aspects of the whole game.  I mean, just looking at that list of categories, I can definitely tell you that I would have no trouble earning pink or brown wedges.  I could even have success with blue and yellow, as geography and history were among my best subjects.  But green wedges were quite hard for me to get.  And, we won't discuss how difficult it was for me to get an orange wedge.  As someone who never watches sports, I was rendered completely useless if I was asked a sports related question.

And yet somehow, I would almost always land on orange and green squares.  Life just wasn't fair sometimes.

By the end of the game, your playing piece should look like this.

Sounds simple...but the questions certainly weren't.  I'll give you some examples of what I mean later on in this piece.

For now, let's talk a bit about how the game was invented, as well as some of the controversy that took place upon the game's arrival on store shelves.

Believe it or not, Trivial Pursuit was created by a couple of Canadians.  The concept was drawn up by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott in Montreal, Quebec on one frosty day in December 1979.  At the time, Haney worked for "The Gazette" as a photo editor and Abbott was a sports editor for "The Canadian Press".  The story goes that both men were trying to play a game of "Scrabble" together, but with half of the letter tiles missing, it made the game unusable.  So the pair decided to create their own game, and by 1982 the men felt comfortable enough to release it in stores.

It started off slowly with only a few units sold the first year that it was released.  However, a sudden demand for quiz like games saw Trivial Pursuit rise in popularity sharply.  By 1984, it was easily the biggest selling board game in the world, with some twenty million copies sold worldwide.  As of 2014, the game has been translated into seventeen different languages, and at last count was available for purchase in almost thirty different countries.

Of course, there was a little bit of controversy over Trivial Pursuit.  And, in both cases, the creators of the game were accused of stealing ideas from other people.

In October 1984 - which was right around the time that the game was at its most popular - a man by the name of Fred L. Worth claimed that the creators of the game had stolen questions and answers from his book "The Trivia Encyclopedia" to use in the game - even typing the questions with the same spelling errors as the ones made in the book!  In fact, one of the questions was about the television series "Columbo" asking what his real first name was, and it was incorrectly listed as Philip in the book - as well as the Trivial Pursuit game card!  The two men who created the game acknowledged that they did borrow facts from Worth's book, but also argued that trivia facts are not protected by copyright, therefore the claims of copyright infringement could not be proven.  A judge agreed, and threw out Worth's $300 million lawsuit against Haney and Abbott.

And then ten years later in 1994, a man from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia named David Wall launched a lawsuit of his own against the duo, claiming that he and a friend were hitchhiking around the Sydney, Nova Scotia area in the fall of 1979 - three months before Trivial Pursuit was created.  He claimed that Chris Haney picked them up and gave them a ride.  And along the way, it was Wall who had given Haney the idea for the creation of Trivial Pursuit, right down to the playing piece designs.

In short, Wall was claiming that Haney had stolen his idea and wanted compensation for it. 

Three problems though.

First, David Wall's mother claimed that Wall had drawings of the Trivial Pursuit board and playing pieces located in his room around the time that the game was being planned, but unfortunately the drawings had been thrown out long ago.  Secondly, the friend who was supposedly hitchhiking with Wall on the day that Haney allegedly gave both of them a ride chose not to testify in the lawsuit.  And lastly, Haney claimed that he had never seen Wall before in his life.

Eventually, the court ruled against Wall's claims due to lack of substantial evidence, though it was in the courts for a good dozen years!

Hey, wouldn't that make a good trivia question?

And speaking of trivia questions, I thought that I would try my hand at making my very own Trivial Pursuit card.  I have six questions, one of each category with the subjects based on the original trivia game.  And, I'll have the answers hidden within this blog.  You just may have to do a little bit of digging.

Ready?  Let's do this.

1.  What Canadian city can boast having Canada's largest shopping plaza?
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  The mall is the West Edmonton Mall.
2.  On which television soap opera did "Who's The Boss" star Judith Light play a hooker?
One Life To Live
3.  In a 1994 question and answer session on MTV, which United States President admitted that when given the choice between boxers and briefs, he usually wore briefs?
President Bill Clinton
4.  What is the name of the fictional language spoken in George Orwell's book "Nineteen Eighty-Four"?

5.  On May 18, 1980, what event took place in Skamania County, Washington?
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

6.  The last year that this city won both the World Series and the Stanley Cup was in 1993.  Name this city.
Toronto, Ontario.

1 comment:

  1. Toronto didn't win the Stanley Cup in 1993