Trivial Pursuit is a board game from
Canada in which winning is
determined by a player's ability to answer general knowledge and
popular culture questions.
Dozens of question sets have been released for the game. The question
cards are organized into themes; for instance, in the standard Genus
question set, questions in green deal with science and nature. Some
question sets have been designed for younger players, and others for a
specific time period or as promotional tie-ins (such as Star Wars,
Saturday Night Live, and
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings movies).
4 Legal action
4.1 Fred Worth lawsuit
4.2 David Wall lawsuit
5.2 Arcade game
5.3 Home computer games
5.4 Video games
7 External links
The game was created in December 1979 in Montreal in Quebec, by
Canadian Chris Haney, a photo editor for Montreal's The Gazette, and
Scott Abbott, a sports editor for The Canadian Press. After finding
pieces of their
Scrabble game missing, they decided to create their
own game. With the help of John Haney and Ed Werner, they completed
development of the game, which was released in 1981.
In North America, the game's popularity peaked in 1984, a year in
which over 20 million games were sold. The rights to the game were
initially licensed to
Selchow and Righter in 1982, then to Parker
Brothers (now part of Hasbro) in 1988, after initially being turned
down by the Virgin Group; in 2008
Hasbro bought the full rights, for
US$80 million. As of 2004[update], nearly 88 million games had been
sold in 26 countries and 17 languages. Northern Plastics of Elroy,
Wisconsin produced 30,000,000 games between 1983 and 1985. In December
Trivial Pursuit was named to the "Games Hall of Fame" by Games
magazine. An online version of
Trivial Pursuit was launched in
Trivial Pursuit playing piece, with all six wedges filled
The object of the game is to move around the board by correctly
answering trivia questions. Questions are split into six categories,
with each one having its own color to readily identify itself; in the
classic version of Trivial Pursuit, these are
History (yellow), Arts & Literature
(originally brown, later purple),
Nature (green), and
Sports & Leisure (orange). The game includes a board, playing
pieces, question cards, a box, small plastic wedges to fit into the
playing pieces, and a die.
Playing pieces used in
Trivial Pursuit are round and divided into six
sections, similar to a cheese triangle. A small plastic wedge,
sometimes called cheese, can be placed into each of these sections
to mark each player's progress.
During the game, players move their playing pieces around a track
which is shaped like a wheel with six spokes. This track is divided
into spaces of different colors, and the center of the board is a
hexagonal "hub" space. At the end of each spoke is a "category
headquarters" space. When a player's counter lands on a square, the
player answers a question according to the color of the square, which
corresponds to one of the six categories. If the player answers the
question correctly, his turn continues; if the player's piece was on
one of the category headquarters spaces, he/she collect a wedge of the
same color, which fits into the playing piece. Some spaces say "roll
again," giving an extra roll of the die to the player. The hub is a
"wild" space; a player landing here may answer a question in the
category of his choice. Questions must be answered without any outside
assistance. Any number of playing pieces may occupy the same space at
the same time. A variant rule ends a player's turn on collecting a
wedge, preventing a single knowledgeable player from running the
Once a player has collected one wedge of each color and filled up his
playing piece, he must return to the hub and answer a question in a
category selected by the other players. If this question is answered
correctly, that player wins the game. Otherwise, the player must leave
the center of the board and try again on the next turn.
Board and pieces of Trivial Pursuit.
Main article: List of
Trivial Pursuit editions
Over the years, numerous editions of
Trivial Pursuit have been
produced, usually specializing in various fields. The original version
is known as the Genus edition (or Genus I). Several other general
knowledge editions (such as Genus II) have followed. Some include,
Junior Edition (1985), All-Star Sports, Baby Boomers, 1980s, All About
the 80s, and 1990s.
In the United Kingdom,
Trivial Pursuit players complained that the
2006 version of the game was "dumbed down" in comparison to previous
editions, with easier questions and more focus on celebrities and show
Fred Worth lawsuit
In October 1984, Fred L. Worth, author of The
Super Trivia, and Super
Trivia II, filed a $300 million lawsuit
against the distributors of Trivial Pursuit. He claimed that more than
a quarter of the questions in the game's Genus Edition had been taken
from his books, even to the point of reproducing typographical errors
and deliberately placed misinformation. One of the questions in
Trivial Pursuit was "What was Columbo's first name?" with the answer
"Philip". That information had been fabricated to catch anyone who
might try to violate his copyright.
The inventors of
Trivial Pursuit acknowledged that Worth's books were
among their sources, but argued that this was not improper and that
facts are not protected by copyright. The district court judge agreed,
ruling in favor of the
Trivial Pursuit inventors. The decision was
appealed, and in September 1987 the
United States Court of Appeals for
the Ninth Circuit upheld the ruling. Worth asked the Supreme Court
United States to review the case, but the Court declined,
denying certiorari in March 1988.
David Wall lawsuit
In 1994, David Wall of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, launched a lawsuit
against the game's creators. He claimed that in the fall of 1979, he
and a friend were hitchhiking near Sydney, Nova Scotia, when they were
picked up by Chris Haney. Wall claimed that he told Haney about his
idea for the game in detail, including the shape of the markers.
Wall's mother testified she found drawings of his that looked like
plans for a Trivial Pursuit-like game, but the drawings had since been
destroyed. Wall's friend, who was allegedly hitchhiking with him that
day, never testified. Haney said he never met Wall.
Over the years, there was much legal wrangling, notably around whether
the suit should be decided by a judge or jury. On June 25, 2007, the
Nova Scotia Supreme Court
Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled against Wall.
Trivial Pursuit (U.S. game show),
Trivial Pursuit (UK game
show), and Trivial Pursuit: America Plays
A version of Trivial Pursuit, hosted by Wink Martindale, aired on The
Family Channel in the
United States from 1993 to 1995 (
Jay Wolpert had
attempted a pilot in 1987, but it was not picked up). A syndicated
version entitled Trivial Pursuit: America Plays aired from 2008 to
2009 and hosted by Christopher Knight. In September 2004, Roger Lodge
hosted a sports trivia game show on
Pursuit, which aired five episodes.
BBC Television produced a
Trivial Pursuit game show based on the game
in the UK hosted by Rory McGrath. Another British version (with
rules/format similar to the
Wink Martindale version, and also using
the same theme tune as the
Wink Martindale version) was hosted on The
Family Channel (now Challenge) by Tony Slattery. Birgit Lechtermann
hosted a version for VOX in
Germany from 1993 to 1994.
In 1988, a made-for-television movie entitled Breaking all the Rules:
The Creation of
Trivial Pursuit aired. Treated largely as a comedy,
the movie featured the music of
Jimmy Buffett and portrayed the
creators of the game as three beer-loving Canadians.
In Spain, a version of the show called Trivial Pursuit:
premiered in September 2008 on Antena 3.
Bally Sente released a
Trivial Pursuit arcade game. Like
the board game, several variants were also released.
Home computer games
British software company
Domark released a home computer version
(billed as Trivial Pursuit: The Computer Game) for multiple formats
during the 1980s. This version included pictorial and
musical questions but was otherwise mostly faithful to the
mechanics of the original board game.
Domark released another version called Trivial Pursuit: A New
Beginning, also across multiple formats. This version featured
a plot about the dying earth and significantly altered gameplay
Hasbro Interactive released a "Millennium Edition" in 1999 with three
different modes, and different categories:
Classic Pursuit: Played just like the board game. A "QUICKPLAY" option
was also available, where, to speed the game up, every question would
be a wedge question. Up to six can play. The winner is the first one
to earn all six wedges, land back in the center hub by exact count,
and then give a correct answer.
Party Pursuit: Up to three can play. The computer randomly spins
categories until there are three to choose from. A correct answer by
the first player to buzz in earns the wedge; a wrong answer gives the
opposition a chance, as well as take away any wedges earned in a
category. The first player to earn all six wedges wins the game. After
20 questions, the computer begins selecting categories for the
Point Pursuit: Same as Party Pursuit, except point scores are kept,
and questions range from 250 to 1,000 points. Players can also wager
any or all of their scores on one final question. Bonus points are
earned for a wedge and for how much or how little time it took to
answer a question.
There are also three different ways to answer the questions:
Multiple choice, where players choose from numbers 1, 2, 3, or 4;
Spelling accuracy: loose, where imperfect spelling is accepted by the
Spelling accuracy: strict, where spelling must be precise.
This game featured a total of seven voice-overs, one host, and one for
each of the six categories: People & Places (blue wedge), Arts
Entertainment (pink wedge),
History (yellow wedge), Science
Nature (brown wedge),
Sports & Leisure (green wedge), and
Wild Card (orange wedge).
Trivial Pursuit was released for a number of home video systems,
including Sega CD, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 2,
PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4. The board game was also adapted
into a mobile game called
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Trivial Pursuit History". ideafinder.com. Retrieved
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^ "Fascinating facts about the invention of TRIVIAL PURSUIT". The
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Trivial Pursuit sells for a non-trivial sum: $80 million US". CBC
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^ Ward, Eric (29 September 2003). "
Trivial Pursuit Launches Online
Version". Urlwire.com. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
^ Stelfox, Hilarie (19 December 2016). "Tried and tested family games
for Christmas". Huddersfield Examiner.
^ Jones, Beth; Henry, Julie (17 December 2006). "Trivial
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^ Worth v. Selchow & Righter Co., 485 U.S. 977 (1988). (cert.
^ "Hitchhiker loses
Trivial Pursuit rights battle". Australian
Broadcasting Corporation News. Abc.net.au. 26 June 2007. Retrieved
^ Grant, Jules (6 April 2008). "Trivial deals, new gameshow for
Debmar-Mercury". C21 Media. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
^ "Trivial Pursuit". International Arcade Museum. Retrieved
^ Davison, John S. (March–April 1987). "Issue 26 - Trivial Pursuit".
Page 6. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
Trivial Pursuit Edition Genus". cpc-power.com. Retrieved
^ "ZXSoftware.co.uk". ZXSoftware.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
^ "Trivial Pursuit: Commodore-Genus Edition". Lemon64.com. Retrieved
^ Hughes, Gwen (November 1986). "Trivial Pursuit". Ysrnry.co.uk.
^ "Trivial Pursuit: A New Beginning". Lemon64.com. 1988. Retrieved
^ a b South, Phil (January 1989). "Trivial Pursuits - A New
Beginning". Ysrnry.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
^ "Trivial Pursuit: A Strange New Beginning". Incredibly Strange
Games. 21 September 2010. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
^ "ProReview: Trivial Pursuit". GamePro. IDG (70): 56. May 1995.
Trivial Pursuit Live! on PlayStation 4, ign.com
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Trivial Pursuit.
Exhaustive list of editions
Trivial Pursuit rules
Trivial Pursuit at BoardGameGeek
CBC Archives CBC Television on the invention of
Trivial Pursuit (1979)
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