Trivial Pursuit: Treasured Lessons of Perseverance and Breaking Barriers!

TrivialpursuitToday, Trivial Pursuit is considered a bestselling game. However, Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers both turned down the opportunity to first produce the game. The story of its success is one which holds valuable and treasured lessons to learn from.

It is hard to believe one of the top selling games, Trivial Pursuit, was originally thought to be a failure by two major game companies of America. Both Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley rejected the game. According to The Toy and Game Inventor’s Handbook (2003), a senior executive at Milton Bradley said, “We were the world’s largest game publisher. We knew it all. First, we knew adults didn’t play games. We also knew no one would pay $29.99 to $39.99 retail for a game. And, lastly, we said that if anyone wanted trivia, there were lots of books.”

The Game of Trivial Pursuit

Obviously, and admittedly by the Milton Bradley game company, those above thoughts concerning games were wrong. Adults do play games and they are willing to pay a good price for an excellent and entertaining trivia game.

treasured lessons from gamesTrivial Pursuit is a board game in which players progress around the board by answering trivia style questions from six different categories. The categories are each represented by a color and include the following subjects: Geography (blue), Entertainment (pink), History (yellow), Art & Literature (brown), Science & Nature (green), and Sports & Leisure (orange).

Some sample questions are:

“What country exports goods through the port of Durban?”
“What was H.G. Wells first novel?”
“What TV show did John Sebastian sing the theme for?”

A player receives a matching colored wedge by correctly answering a question on category headquarter spaces. The winner is the first player to fill his hexagonal shaped piece with all six wedges of pie. He also needs to travel to the center of the board, and only after correctly answering a question from a category chosen by his opponents, is he then considered the winner of the game.

Trivial Pursuit Perseveres

If the Canadian creators, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, hadn’t pursued publishing their game after being rejected by the before mentioned game companies, Trivial Pursuit would not have become what it is today. Moreover, their vision for the game overcame other obstacles, as well.

Initially, 1,100 board games were self produced by the game designers in 1981. Expenses for these games realized an actual cost for producing the sets to be over eighty dollars each. Although they managed to sell these games for fifteen dollars each, they sold the games at a huge loss of around 65,000 dollars. Many game designers may have given up at this stage, but they pushed forward, and eventually, Selchow & Righter chose to publish Trivial Pursuit in 1983.

Creative Marketing for Trivial Pursuit

In The Game Inventor’s Guidebook by Brian Tinsman (Kraus Publications, 2002), Tinsman shares Trivial Pursuit’s creative marketing idea. Still struggling to sell games, the wonderfully, ingenious plan to contact well known celebrities whose names were found within the game’s questions and answers were contacted. They loved it, and from this added attention, sales grew. Excitement for the game soared and you could say the rest is history.

Valuable Lessons Learned from Trivial Pursuit

History it is. However, much can be learned from the experiences of Trivial Pursuit’s creation and the effects it has on the future of game designers today. Tinsman states in his book, Trivial Pursuit was one of the first games geared towards adults. He says, “Chris and Scott’s willingness to risk everything they owned shooting for an untapped market resulted in the creation of an entirely new category of adult board games.”

Tomorrow may reveal another unknown ‘new category’ of games by a struggling game designer of today. He could be dealing with game companies saying ‘it will never work’ or ‘no one would want to play a game like that’. Knowing the story of Trivial Pursuit and holding on a vision for his game may overcome these obstacles. Time will tell. Certainly, it would seem one of the spaces on the game to Life’s Success is perseverance and challenge barriers!


Best of luck with all that you seek and Treasure the Adventure!

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2 Responses

  1. JohnR says:

    My mom used to wipe the floor with me and my brothers playing this game. We have never beaten her at it, and our only comeback when she’d smile at us with that grin, was to say “Well ma, this pursuit was trivial.” 🙂 jeopardy is another one, forget about it. The things she knows. Nice post. Thumbs up.

  2. JL says:

    Thank you Jenny, a thought provoking article. It reminds me of what Forrest Fenn stated”*Don’t be influenced by those who say they know, but don’t.f (Posted June 10th, 2016)”

    Here is a off topic bit of information but it seems to fit your Title for this story:

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