Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Finally Got A Piece Of The Pie

Chris Haney, the co-creator of Trivial Pursuit, died yesterday.

I've never been a huge fan of Trivial Pursuit. I mean, I love trivia, and I have fun playing the game; but the game's design has always seemed quite flawed. It's always really fun for the first, say, half hour or so, but when you roll and roll and roll and lose not because you didn't correctly answer eight questions about the solar system and M*A*S*H in a row but because you failed to roll a three to land exactly on the brown pie space, it becomes increasingly less fun. It also has one of the fatal flaws of board games: someone could win without anyone else getting a shot at victory.

And woe be the player who can never get the Sports and Leisure answered correctly, or the Science and Nature question right. Since the answers are all fill-in-the-blank (for the most part) someone with no clue in one of the six subjects could stagnate until the game ended. Now, part of that is by design--you'll only win if you're well-versed in a variety of subjects--but I remember being frustrated at failing to answer a dozen baseball questions until I lucked upon one about chess or bocce or something.


The cards were also peppered with the occasional "cute" question, based on a pun or some word trickery, and good for a laugh. I suppose it's not a crime, but it was quite irritating to be the one to get it and have to waste an entire turn.

I've always kind of wished they would revise the formula: maybe have some sort of point system, or let people bet on answers, or have some special spaces to do something...anything...different. But in what seems to be the thousands of genre-specific editions out there, only small superficial changes were ever made. While I guess I shouldn't complain about a formula that obviously worked--and made a lot of people a lot of money--it really seems like an opportunity lost. Some day I would love to create some Jeopardy-style game show, dispense with the board, and make it more engaging and fun, but at that point it's probably just as easy to play some other game (see: Wits and Wagers).

Don't get me wrong. I'll gladly sign up to play this any time. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's my vast mental storage of completely useless information. I just wish they have refined the product in its approximately thirty years of existence.

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