I know that the title seems paradoxical but bear with me. I used to like seeing trivia contests on TV and once in a while I enjoy seeing a few minutes of one but it’s the feeling of slow lobotomization that makes me change the channel every single time.
Yes, I know, by most definitions trivia isn’t important knowledge, it also doesn’t have to be logic and isn’t exactly designed to make people think, I’m aware of that, but I see no reason as to why people should exhaustively respect those definitions of trivia when they plan a game.
If you do a quick search you’ll find that dictionaries define trivia as having some or all of these 3 aspects:
– Unimportant facts
– Little known facts
– Short answers/questions
I find that in these games short answers and questions are desirable for entertainment purposes, little known facts are also something that adds to the challenge, but why should such facts belong in the overwhelming majority of the time to the unimportant category? Would people get mad if they asked something useful more frequently? I don’t think so.
Trivia games infrequently present scientific questions and when they do, curiously enough, they have no problem as long as they’re geography questions. Very rarely there are some really basic biology/astronomy/chemistry questions being thrown around but that’s about it (I’m talking from personal experience. if you know about some game that better fits my criteria you can tell me about it using the comments section).
My point is that I see these games using so much of people’s time that they might as well teach something useful.
It would be reasonable to expect that people possess a lot of useful knowledge as opposed to trivia knowledge, if this was true it would mean that contestants would get a lot more answers right, but, independently of what the reality may be, like in trivia knowledge, important knowledge also has little known facts, the entertainment value, difficulty levels and format of the games could remain unchanged with just the upside of being more informative.
One could argue that this change would skew the pool of winners to the side of those with a more scientific background, however, as it stands right now it may well be strongly skewed to those that pursue history courses or are avid consumers of mainstream media and such, judging by the scope and content of typical questions.