By Heather Lee Gordy
I’ve never been a fan of trivia or much of a supporter. I would even go as far to say that I hate trivia. When I think about it, I do like the idea of trivia—spending time with friends, working together and building a team, maybe even gaining a feeling of accomplishment or satisfaction at the end of the night if you win—but I know I usually don’t win, and my competitive manner ruins it for me by the time the night is over.
Maybe that means I’m a sore loser, and maybe I am, or maybe I’m jealous of the idea that others can let go of their natural competitive instincts and appreciate this time and space for what it’s meant to be, a personal challenge and sense of community. I didn’t see it that way until I set out to discover why people of Wilmington enjoy playing trivia.
For some, it was about the pure satisfaction of winning. One team (who consisted of two doctors and two lawyers) told me, “We wouldn’t play if we didn’t win.” They didn’t care about the prize at the end of the night, they really only wanted reassurance that, in some way, they knew more than the other people in that room.
The same team, when asked why they play trivia, responded sarcastically with, “To assert dominance in a manner that we can’t in other environments.”
I laughed and they responded more seriously with, “We’re here to impress ourselves, not anyone else.” For them, trivia night becomes more than a social outing; it provides a boost of confidence and a small bonus for their pride and naturally competitive spirit.
My other interviewees were out to gain more. I joined Doug at Bourbon Street one night, a gentleman who was normally a part of a two man team, and brought my editor and a new player to trivia along with me. We all proved to not be of much help to him, although impressively enough, Doug was able to answer 90% of the questions himself.
I saw that Doug played trivia as a way to challenge himself. He didn’t study trivia or read up on trivia books as I heard some players do. He’s someone who simply enjoys watching documentaries and learning new information. He said, “You’d be surprised how much information you can retain when you don’t have any distractions.” Doug is someone who never wants to stop learning and trivia gives him an opportunity to test his personal knowledge while refraining from being overly competitive or comparing what he knows against anyone else, and that’s something I can connect with and respect.
My next objective was to seek out a host and gain their perspective. I spoke with Brian Collis, trivia host for Hell’s Kitchen, to find out how and why he became a trivia host. Brian has lived in Wilmington for four years now and is a high school history teacher. He enjoys playing trivia; he played at various places around town before becoming a host himself. He said he found himself bothered and frustrated when the questions weren’t challenging enough, and he wanted questions that made him think.
When Brian felt he had the resources and knowledge to provide a fair but challenging game to others, he started looking for an opportunity where he could host trivia. It wasn’t long after Brian started his pursuit that the previous trivia host of Hell’s Kitchen, known for hosting the best trivia around town, moved and the opportunity to take his place was brought to Brian by some friends. Brian took the opportunity head on and he said, “I wanted to make the best trivia experience for anyone coming in there.”
Brian followed a similar format as the previous host, combined elements from other hosts he had learned from around town, and then added his own unique spin. Brian’s questions are all originally made while pulling ideas and inspiration from books and online sites. When asked what makes a good trivia question he said, “Each should be challenging, but not defeating. I want people leaving with more than what they came in with.” Coming from a true teacher, Brian wants people to be able to come to trivia while making friends and having fun with it, but he also wants them to leave knowing they learned something new.
No matter what reasons bring you to trivia, I know it does encourage a sense of community. Whether you go there to challenge yourself, to challenge strangers, or to be with friends, all who attend add to the community of trivia and encourage this space where you can learn from one another and connect with people who also enjoy something that you do.
Follow Brian on Facebook for more trivia updates at www.facebook.com/bfgtrivia/.