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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #5: Trivial Pursuit

Wedges or pie pieces? Sometimes there is no right answer.

Q: What iconic 1980s board game allowed insufferable know-it-alls the opportunity to impose their breadth of seldom-applicable knowledge on friends and family under the thin veneer of game night fun? A: Trivial Pursuit

Some entries on this list will be obscure, and some will be classics that won't require much, if any, explication of rules or gameplay. Trivial Pursuit falls into that latter category, a game everyone has played and loved or played and hated. It all depends on whether you're a Hermione or a Harry, I suppose, and as an unreformed Hermione, I love it. That love began as a kid when we played as a family, requiring such precision of answers that we once declared our mother wrong when she replied to a question about the opening words of the Indy 500 with "Gentlemen start your motors" rather than engines. She has flatly refused to play the game in the four decades since. You have to love a game that brings out the pedant in preteens.

The simplicity and flexibility of the six-category system has allowed for limitless adaptations, franchises like Harry Potter and Star Wars appealing to their own geekdoms, while Parker Brothers and later Hasbro keep churning out niche versions such as Sports, 1980s, Young Players, and more. For me, the gold standard remains that original 1981 Genus edition. Maybe it's through the eyes of youth, but the questions felt tougher. Certainly the pink Entertainment category was to be avoided at all costs, a La Brean tar pit of recondite esoterica from Hollywood's golden age (shudder).

I don't get to play much any more. It gets harder to find people willing to sit down and play a game of anything, let alone embark on what can often appear to be an exercise in burnishing your opponent's fragile pseudo-erudition. Maybe we should have gone easier on mom. Ah, who am I kidding? Motors and engines aren't the same thing, Mom. And that's not what the guy says to start the race.

Q: Anyone out there up for a game of Trivial Pursuit?


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