Sunday, September 16, 2007

Trivial Chocolates

I haven't done any posts for awhile about souvenirs or gifts students have given my husband or me. One of the reasons is sheer laziness, particularly with going to the trouble of taking a picture but another is that most of the gifts have been nice but unremarkable. My husband brought home some chocolates the other day which we both found interesting.

This particular box of chocolates comes with 4 Trivial Pursuit cards and 24 miniature chocolate bars. The cards are in German so we can't read them but the concept is one I believe we'd never see back home in the U.S. There are a few reasons I think this and the primary one relates to the fact that I think, by and large, Trivial Pursuit is a game designed to attract adults and chocolate is mainly something targeted at children. The combination of these two things seems to be a way of encouraging people to see these as two great things that go great together, sort of like a game version of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.

The other reason I think it wouldn't be offered in the U.S. is that I believe Trivial Pursuit isn't something America finds all that attractive anymore. In fact, after the initial boom, I don't think many people were all that into it because they found the game too difficult for them. My husband and I used to play Trivial Pursuit and bought some of the later card sets and found that they seemed to be dumbing them down and specializing them in an attempt to make the game easier for people with a less than stellar general knowledge.

Of course, that's not to say I was incredibly great shakes at the game. While I did very well with science, art, literature, and entertainment, I was hopeless at sports and recent American history (though I was fine at earlier history and world history for the most part). For instance, while my husband knew everything Richard Nixon had done wrong and who had caught him, I was clueless about such details. Anyone with an interest in politics or baseball scores had a distinct advantage compared to someone who knew who painted "The Birth of Venus" or who had read "The Catcher in the Rye".

Back when we were playing this game though, the absolute worst category for me was sports. I didn't know anything about any sport (and still don't except for sumo) and it became a running joke that I would answer any sports question with "Pete Rose" even though I knew he was a baseball player and the question was about hockey or football. There were many occasions where I couldn't finish or win the game because I'd be trying repeatedly for that last sports and recreation piece of the plastic pie and never happen upon the type of question (recreation) which I had a shot at getting right. If it wasn't a question about playing jacks (or a non-sports game) or a scandalous and notorious sports personality in the last 5 years, I wasn't going to get the question right.

While, we did enjoy playing Trivial Pursuit together, my husband had too great an advantage and I too great a disadvantage and all the games ended the same way (with me chasing around that last orange wedge and never getting it). It was better when we teamed up with other people but our friends were often from other countries (the U.K., Australia, etc.) and our American version of the game carried a distinct bias for America-based information which was unfair to them. In the end though, computer games which took up less space to play and store usurped the role of board games in our lives. In fact, I'd pretty much say that Warcraft II was the first nail in the coffin of the more gentle days of sitting around a board, rolling a die and racking our brains to answer questions on cards.


Helen said...

Trivial Pursuit was originally a Canadian game!

I used to do very well at it as like you, I have good general knowledge. My least favourite category was always Geography...although Sports was a close second.

Here in Japan it's too difficult to find anyone to play with.... as with most boardgames that I like to play, it's weighted against anyone without a good knowledge of North American life.

And, I wish there was some way to play Scrabble fairly with my husband, but there just isn't.

Shari said...

I think I was pretty crappy at Geography of certain areas (Africa, Asia) but I'd be a lot better at it now.

It is difficult in Japan to find people to play any game that is based on knowledge or language with (like Scrabble or Boggle). It's not really a big deal but I imagine it closes off a pleasant social avenue.

On the bright side, most Japanese people are able to play card games with you so that's always a possibility for socializing! Mind you, I've never played cards with a Japanese person (or as they say "trump") but I do know that people play card games.

Good Old Japan said...

Hi. I have seen your blog.. That is very interesting....

I reckon Japanese people are able to play a lot of games, yes mostly card games.. I am digging in texas style.

There are so many games that we do not required to speak English!! How about Twister?? So much fun..

Anyway, could you add my link to your page please? I have already posted your link to my blog..