Trivial Pursuit-The Hot Game of the '80's
How could one board game cause so much fervor with a box of questions? Well, in the mid-1980’s Trivial Pursuit really took off. That would have been 1984 when sales hit a record $80 million dollars and individuals competed against each other, students defended their colleges, and the battle of sexes heated up to find out who had the brightest bulb burning for trivia questions.
The History Behind Trivial Pursuit
The two inventors, Chris Haney, a photo editor and Scott Abbott, a sports editor, met while on assignment with the Montreal Gazette in the late ‘70’s. They discovered they hit it off and a friendship was formed. Two of their mutual interests were board games and beer. Four years after this meeting, while drinking beer and attempting to play scrabble with missing pieces the two began creating a game to occupy their time and jotted the premise of the Trivial Pursuit game, along with six categories, on scraps of paper. The initial brainstorm took about an hour and produced the basics for the game and the player’s piece: an empty pie shape that had to be filled with wedges indicating you had achieved your place of knowledge in that category.
Once the game was in the beginning stages of development, Haney and Abbott attended a toy fair in Montreal. Posing as reporters they questioned game experts and picked their brains for valuable information which they used to continue the development of their invention. Then, they solicited Haney’s brother and friend to join forces with them, eventually convincing 32 people to invest a total of $40,000 to begin production.
The initial game production, under the marketing name of Horn Abbott, sold just over 1,000 games for $15 each and the investors took a hit, as the games cost $75 to manufacture. That was in 1982. Creators Chris Haney and Scott Abbott could not find an interested party to buy Trivial Pursuit, however, after sales continued to climb Selchow and Righter bought the rights to the game in 1988. In a few short years it was sold to Parker Bros. who eventually sold all licensing rights to Hasbro in 2008. That purchase cost Hasbro’s a cool $80 million.
How to Play
Coleen, my cousin, was the first to bring our family’s attention to the game Christmas of 1984. We gathered around the kitchen table as she excitedly explained the rules: six people could play, or you could create teams. I come from a highly competitive family so it was always cut-throat.
The object was to move around the board and answer questions from the large deck that held a question for each category, eventually landing on the category ‘headquarters’ at the top of each spoke. If the player answered that question correctly he would receive the wedge that matched. If not, you had to move off the space and try again.
I don’t recall how many cards were in the first edition, but the questions seemed endless. As the player’s piece moved around the wheel shaped track the spaces on the track were marked in colors which matched the categories. The winner had to be in the center of the board after filling up her pie with all six wedges. Then, she could only be declared the winner if she correctly answered the final question. The catch was it would be a category that her opponent would choose. The game could go on for hours and often did.
Since that initial first edition there have been numerous versions, such as the Baby Boomer edition, the series of Genus (I, II, III, IV, and V), the promotional versions such as: The Rolling Stones, The Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings ; and of course the Anniversary Editions, including the 10th and the 25th.
But, not to be excluded there are editions for children. Young Player and For Juniors, are two editions which encourages children to get in on the fun with their own age appropriate questions. And, if you don’t have a game taking up space in your home, go to the internet-Trivia Pursuit has had an online version since 2003.
One more bit of trivia: by 2010 Trivial Pursuit sales have reached 100 million copies and is sold in 26 countries with questions printed in 17 languages. Since its creation Trivial Pursuit, and its many follow up versions, has reached over one billion dollars in sales. That is a very impressive figure.
The Original Categories and Color
Science and Nature
Arts and Literature
Sports and Leisure