Why Trivia? Three Major Benefits of Playing Trivia

Why Trivia? Three Major Benefits of Playing Trivia
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Seth Wilson, a Private Events Manager for Sporcle Live and a Pub Trivia host. He also happens to be a 12-time Jeopardy! champion, so he knows a thing or two about trivia.

Why Trivia?

It makes sense that we here at Sporcle love trivia. We’ve got a website with millions of quizzes on subjects ranging from African geography to naming every song on every Elvis Costello album, and we host trivia nights across the country throughout the week. We can also do special events for private groups and companies. This blog is a space for me to give you a peek behind the Sporcle curtain to see what it is that makes us trivia-heads tick, and I’ll pepper in some fun facts along the way.

Personally, I’ve benefited a lot from trivia. As a grad student, I used it to supplement my income. Later, I became one of the winningest contestants in the history of Jeopardy! And now, I make a living by helping other people enjoy my favorite hobby, which is awesomely fun. As I’ve worked with Sporcle, I’ve started thinking about why doing trivia is so much fun. Today, for my inaugural post here, I’m going to give you three reasons why I think trivia night is a great pastime.

Three Major Benefits of Playing Trivia

1. Trivia—Your Brain on Questions

As it turns out, there are some biological reasons behind the rush of excitement I felt when I got the Cape Canaveral question right. According to psychologist John Kounios, answering a trivia question correctly triggers a release of dopamine in the brain that gives the person answering a sense of pleasure. Beyond that short-term benefit, collecting and deploying information can exercise the brain as we age, supporting healthy neurological function. Trivia is like taking your brain to the gym, and the best part is you won’t even need a shower afterwards.

2. Take a Screen Break

Speaking of neurological health, hitting up a trivia night has some peripheral benefits as well. Last summer, I read Deep Work by the computer scientist Cal Newport, and it really turned my head around. I highly encourage everyone to check it out, because Newport’s writing is funny and readable and his thesis is vitally important.

Newport argues that the most important trait to develop in our increasingly distracted world is the ability to focus deeply on one task at a time. Smart devices and social media, while fun, can have the unintended effect of rewiring our brains to crave constant stimulation. This state of hyper-stimulation has the unintended effect of making it difficult to focus for long periods of time. Trivia, however, provides a built-in break from screen time. Because we’re in the business of quizzing and not Googling, we don’t allow you to use your phones while you’re playing the game. The result is that you get a break from the hyper-connected world we live in. And I bet you won’t even miss it!

3. Getting Together

When I was in grad school, my friends and I went to at least two trivia nights per week. Not only did we use our winnings to subsidize our meager grad student wages, but it also gave us the opportunity to catch up with one another amidst our crazily packed schedules. Team trivia is an inherently social activity. At the same time you’re answering the questions, you’re reconnecting with people, or maybe making new friends. Plus, the quiz questions provide all sorts of interesting fodder. You might even find out that one of your friends is an expert in some obscure subject that you’d never heard about before. As far as social experiences go, trivia is hard to beat.

I’ve been a devoted trivia-head since I was a kid. Only recently have I started to contemplate why I get so much pleasure out of answering questions. Here at Sporcle Live, we love being able to bring that joy to trivia enthusiasts around the country. Whether it’s a standing quiz night, a private event, or a fundraiser, you’d be hard-pressed to find an activity as rewarding as doing trivia.

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