HQ Trivia and the Joy of Learning

Bethany Keeley-Jonker

I love trivia: pub trivia, Jeopardy, trivia board games. So of course I got in on the newest trivia trend: HQ Trivia, a smartphone app that draws, at times, more than 1 million players to live games so they can compete for cash prizes. As the audience grows, the value of the prizes has been growing too.

Very few of these players actually win, though. In the 12-question contest, there are frequently several “savage questions” that knock out the majority of the remaining players until only a small percentage of them get all of the questions correct. So what keeps people like me playing, even though I’ve never gotten past question nine?

Jaya Saxena, writing for GQ, hypothesizes that people like having a use for knowledge that they often consider “useless,” especially after a lot of formal education emphasizes knowing a little bit about everything (the key to being good at trivia). I think she’s onto something. I love when I absolutely know the answer to something because of my life and educational experience. What Saxena doesn’t account for, though, is how many people enjoy trivia games when they lose and get things wrong.

One thing I think she’s missing is the joy of learning. I love discovering more about the amazing things in God’s creation, and the creative things that people—creating in the image of their creator—come up with. Did you know that moray eels have a second set of jaws that come out of their throat? Did you know that the current Wimbledon trophy replaced the original because it was more friendly to color television? Trivia, especially when I get it wrong, encourages me to return to the sense of wonder and delight for the world that learning gives me. When I get it right, sometimes it reminds me of something else amazing I learned in the past.

I love discovering more about the amazing things in God’s creation.

Trivia is also frequently a place where people can work together and gain from each other’s strengths and experiences. Trivia HQ host Scott Rogowsky told Money that the best way to win is to play with people of different ages—like journalist Dan Rather, who won playing with his daughter and grandson. Trivia games often create opportunities for people of different ages, interests, and experiences to shine and to be surprised and impressed with each other. I appreciate a lot of things about my friends, but sometimes a trivia game reveals something about them I might not have known otherwise.

By definition, trivia covers things that are of little value or importance. But sometimes the stuff I learn that is obscure or weird or not particularly useful to my everyday life is still valuable. It reveals the astonishing details of God’s creation and of the care and attention that people put into learning about it and making new things. It reminds me of the last few chapters of Job, where God describes, in poetic detail, the animals and plants he has made.

Even as I try to master trivia, there’s always more to learn. It’s humbling to realize how complex and full of wonders the world is, and it points me back to the source of all that creativity: the God who made us, in his image, alongside so many other weird, cool, detailed parts of the world.

Topics: Online