Top 25 "It" products of all time: #7 -- Trivial Pursuit


In the days before video gaming, we used to gather together face to face to socialize and play games made of paper and plastic. No kidding. In the mid-80s, a new board game, Trivial Pursuit, swept the nation, to the puzzlement of many. What was it about this game, so similar to the TV game shows such as Jeopardy and Concentration which had been staples for a generation already, that drove over 20 million to buy copies in 1984 and led Time Magazine to declare it the "biggest phenomenon in game history?"

One answer, in my experience, was that the questions did not lean heavily on information you should have learned in school. A player was just as likely to be rewarded for knowing who recorded Under the Boardwalk ( The Drifters) as who fought who in the Punic Wars. (Rome and Carthage). The questions were delicately balanced between challenging and moronic, so that no player ever left the board feeling like an idiot.

The questions were also wisely weighted toward the Boomer Generation's experiences, which distinguished it from more staid competitors. Playing Trivial Pursuit, then, became as much an opportunity for groups to share memories as compete. The game developers also took care with the physical design, offering a colorful and intuitive board and pie-shaped rewards (and who doesn't love pie?)