It’s 6:30 on a Tuesday evening and just like clockwork, Julie arrives at the bar to meet her trivia team. Julie and her team, The Smartinis, have played trivia at their favorite bar every week for the past four years. Trivia night is their weekly appointment to catch up, enjoy some friendly competition, and hopefully, win free drinks.
Anyone who has been to a trivia night has undoubtedly seen the incredible bonds formed between teams. Whether it’s a competitive team or a casual group, the dynamic between the players is always unique.
While the bond between teammates seems obvious, the impact of trivia nights stretches farther than first meets the eye.
Take The Smartinis, for example. They’ve played trivia at the same bar for years. During that time, they’ve gotten to know the other regular teams that play at the same bar. They’ve even developed a friendly rivalry and keep track of the reigning champion week after week. In fact, they enjoy the competition so much that the bragging rights are just as valuable to them as a bar tab. What was once an individual trivia team has grown into a community of regulars.
Zoom out a little further, and the impact of trivia nights on an entire city is evident. The Smartinis are just one of many avid trivia teams in Cincinnati. The most competitive teams in the city vie to earn a bid to the Last Call Trivia city-wide tournament. These tournaments are held three times a year, and teams earn their spot by racking up scores playing at their regular weekly trivia nights. Just like at a weekly bar trivia, the tournament sees a healthy mix of returning teams and fresh faces.
The city-wide tournament comes with higher stakes, including a cash prize for the top three teams. And, of course, the bragging rights are elevated as well.
While money and notoriety are motivating factors, competing in the tournament is also its own reward for the teams that earn an invitation. With over one hundred trivia nights in the Cincinnati area, it’s often the first time the qualifying teams have had the chance to meet and play against one another. Competitors can finally put faces to team names they’ve been tracking on the leaderboard for months. The game itself is highly competitive, but the experience as a whole becomes a melting pot of mini-communities from across the city.
Anyone can see the impact by wandering around the venue after the tournament concludes. Invariably, there are players recounting a detailed story of how they knew a certain answer. Maybe they spent a summer abroad in Spain, or their most treasured possession is a VHS copy of Titanic. You’ll also find players laughing, or kicking themselves, over an incorrect answer that they “should have known.” And, there are players interacting with other teams, to ask where they usually play, congratulate them on a great game, or rib them about their score.
All of these interactions show a common theme. Trivia nights aren’t just about winning. They’re about connecting.