Post-digital entertainment

Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, Big Meat, meet Big Trivia.

Bloomberg Journalist Simon Akam follows the trials and tribulations of the last independent quiz host in his article, Chronicles of the Last Quizmaster in the Age of Big Trivia. Thus, the legend of the endangered independent quiz host is born.

After lamenting (and inventing), the death of the independent quiz host at the hands of Big Trivia, he begrudgingly admits there’s some 40,000 quizzes in the UK. Akam then quotes the last quiz host in what could be his final interview, because the quiz host, has scarcely been able to take a vacation in a decade. Strangely concluding with the dramatic claim that perhaps it’s all for the best and that the end is nigh.

"Big Trivia"

The Forest for the Trees

What is missing, are details, important details. Most notably: For every amazing independent quiz, there are dozens of average or subpar ones. If they were endangered, it’s probably because writing a decent quiz every week is hard work that many sane people would not want to do. The less sane ones start trivia companies.

Working in events is the fifth most stressful job on earth, positioned just below police officer and above CEO.

While it takes hours of hard work to make a half-way decent quiz, it’s a full time job for our quiz writing team to produce a great one, not to mention all the other factors involved. The gist of his article seems to be that competition is bad and has corrupted the sanctity of the mythical quiz-hosting brotherhood, making quizzes worse. The more salient fact is that working in events is the fifth to eighth most stressful job on earth, positioned just below police officer and above CEO (according to CNBC, USA Today and Bloomberg).

Top 5 most stressful jobs
Because no human needs another reason to spend more hours in front of the numbing blue light of their smartphone.

On the contrary, competition has made quizzes and trivia nights better and richer, with the notable exception of mobile-phone-quizzing. No human needs another reason to spend more hours in front of the numbing blue light of their smartphone. Facebook and Google hardly need more data about our lives such as how we answer trivia questions correctly or incorrectly. It could be the final missing piece they need; it could be the end of humanity itself!

The Golden Age of Trivia

It may be the Dark Age of social media, but we are in the Golden Age of trivia. The resurgence is pub-based (eg. human, post-digital) entertainment. This offers an alternative to soaring smartphone usage and abuse; it enables us to disconnect from our digital lives and socially interact IRL.

The Real Social Network is Orwellian!

Also, our tagline “The Real Social Network” is Orwellian by design! It’s our attempt to poke fun at “social” media and Facebook’s newspeak attempt to distort and replace the fundamental meaning of the word.

“Big Finance” further accused our material as “verg[ing] on the corporate”, an interesting claim which he bases on a question from the Disney movie Frozen and that we have a recurring picture question category. Our quiz also regularly features DITLOIDs too. Why? Because we love Will Shortz and you cannot (yet) google the answers. A better example would have been our recurring image question category we call “name the corporate logo”. Full disclosure: Bloomberg was NOT among the answers (it’s logo being too generic and Disney being a former customer).

We have a range of players, in different stages of their lives and, yes, some of them have children, or some of them simply watch Disney movies for enjoyment. Neither position is unreasonable or unusual.

It’s the difference between watching Reality TV or Seinfeld. The author seems to hypnotically suggest we would all be better off watching reruns of Big Brother

The undeniable point the article misses is that a team of “professionally trained” creative writers can and will make a better quiz than someone who’s doing this as a side job for 2-3 hours per week. It’s the difference between watching Reality TV or Seinfeld. The author seems to hypnotically suggest we would all be better off watching reruns of Big Brother, which is somehow a more acceptable pop-cultural reference than Frozen.

Trivia Union

Akam says Big Trivia; we say Trivia Union, it’s certainly much closer to reality. We work with and for performers, we produce and provide materials written every day by a creative team. We centrally manage invoicing and infrastructure, we regularly commission poster designs from some of the best artists. Our posters designs, our ever evolving format, and our creative rounds are highly coveted and often appropriated by competitors and independent quiz hosts alike.

We’ve had performers who left to work on the set of Game of Thrones; some who died in their first scenes and one who survived a whole season!

We do many rather mundane parts of the job that most performers would rather not do. We ensure performers arrive on time, get paid on time, have PA kits already at the venue, and we find covers for them when they get sick or take a vacation. When that big acting gig or concert comes up and the quiz host needs 6-8 weeks off, we work to find a suitable replacement until they come back. We’ve had performers who left to work on the set of Game of Thrones. Some who died in their first scenes and one who survived a whole season! Sometimes they find better things to do, like moving to L.A.

We’re hardly comparable to Big Pharma or Big Tobacco; Standard Oil Trust we are not. Also, it’s rather difficult to take criticism from a journalist at Bloomberg (“Big Finance”), a billion dollar company, whose writer seems to be suggesting competition is bad and by extension implying therefore that capitalism is bad. Maybe it is? I hardly think a journalist from Bloomberg will be leading the next revolution!

Social-ism

A point that the article misses is that often times it’s the independent quiz host who comes to us. Rather than feeling enslaved, abhorring the clink of their chains and the fear of their freedom being brutally taken from them; they somehow overcome their fears and partner with us!

Why? They realize that making and producing a great quiz, creating materials, designing posters, dealing with late payments, struggling venues, a rotating carousel of venue managers, “social” media, the distressed pub industry, accounting and legal issues, week after week, is simply hard work. Too hard for a part-time job of between 2-8 hours of work per week.

Sometimes, they would rather take that holiday, see their family and friends and be able to focus on what they love most for a few hours per week: entertaining people.

P.S.

Simon Akam, I suggest you book Bloomberg’s next Corporate team building event with Question One. We’ll show you what the world’s greatest and most popular quiz looks like and together we can celebrate the glory of Capitalism (or plot the next revolution). Also, the continent you left out was America, we do quizzes there too, in case you want to book us for Bloomberg’s headquarters in NY. Andrew “Carnegie” Burns, our head quiz writer, quiz host & founder, now lives there. Also, while neither brother developed Cirqus, Andrew does enjoy not having that photocopier in his living room anymore.