Thursday, April 14, 2005

People and places

Slate's Bryan Curtis has an article about the decline of Trivial Pursuit:

This runs counter to the spirit of most board games—like Monopoly and Scrabble—which promise endless permutations. Trivia, it turns out, is nonrenewable. The Genus Edition so ably flattered boomers that they saw no need to buy later editions that included questions about, say, Melrose Place. What about children of boomers, Trivial Pursuit's other major demographic? They were warned away from the original—the box declared, "Age: Adult"—which of course made mastering the original game even more enticing. To compete at Trivial Pursuit, and maybe answer a question or two, was to secure a seat at the adult table. I remember my grandparents' astonishment when I correctly answered that Radar O'Reilly's favorite drink was Grape Nehi—a fact I'm pretty sure I learned directly from a Trivial Pursuit card. However sacredly boomers regard their nostalgia, it turns out their children regard it as more precious than their own.

Then came the Internet: How could Trivial Pursuit survive in the age of Google? The Internet has rewritten the rules of the game. The old measure of the trivia master was how many facts he could cram into his head. The new measure is how nimbly he can manipulate a search engine to call up the answer. The ABC show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire included a lifeline called "phone-a-friend," in which a desperate contestant was supposed to call upon the knowledge of a smart companion. Seconds after the contestant dialed for help, you could hear the guy on the other end pecking away at a keyboard—Googling—and I thought, This is it. Trivia is dead.

Link. OK, first of all, if he really watched Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? like, five years ago when it was popular and thought "googling," he was way ahead of the curve on the use of google as a verb. Secondly--hey man, I love Trivial Pursuit, but I guess I fall into the "children of baby boomers" category, so maybe I'm the last one.

Also, I just wanted to take the opportunity to point out how funny it is that everyone always referred to "Genus" as in "Genus II" and "Genus III" as "genius." I mean, making a mistake about the spelling of the word genius is pretty ironic, at least Alanis ironic. And making it when you're talking about a game that tests your useless knowledge? Icing on the cake.

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Blogger The Good Reverend said...

You can now hear the audio of the NPR segment on this story here.

3:55 PM  

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