It’s 2024: Does Anyone Need Professionally-Written Trivia Anymore?’s been a little while since my last blog post – in fact, this is my first post of 2024, if you can believe it. Understandable, since I’ve been slammed producing and hosting corporate trivia events all over the country since the start of holiday party season back in November.

The point is, I’ve been busy (thank God) and I of course appreciate the work. I appreciate as well the chance to work with clients old and new to create high-energy, high-impact team building, event entertainment and social/networking experiences, all built upon the good-natured trivia competitions TrivWorks is known for.

Actually, believe it or not 2024 marks fifteen years since I started this company! First as a quirky side-business in bars in New York City, then as a “solopreneur” hustling to book corporate/private gigs to pay the bills, to the bicoastal operation it is today, servicing small businesses to Fortune 500 clients nationwide with a roster of highly-skilled professional trivia emcees.

As I savor this brief pause in my events calendar to take stock of all that’s been accomplished over these past fifteen years, I can’t help but wonder: does anybody really need this anymore?

A Whole New World

When I started hosting quiz nights in Manhattan bars in 2006, smartphones weren’t even a thing. The Internet was something folks had at the office and at their homes, and we honestly couldn’t wait to get away from it (hence the popularity of bar trivia nights and other similar activities). The closest thing I had to “competition” were the arcade-style games sometimes found on the bar top, where patrons could feed it dollars and (maybe) answer some questions correctly.

Today, it’s a different story. The first thing I have to tell folks at my events is to place their devices in the center of the table (I don’t even bother asking them to turn them off anymore, because who’s gonna do that?). Not only are the answers to all of my questions but a keystroke away, but so is distraction: pings, beeps, buzzes, you name it. It’s hard to keep peoples’ attention for ten seconds, let alone two hours for a full-blown brainpower contest.

Does Anyone Write Trivia Anymore?

For me, writing trivia was – and is – an art form, with the blank Microsoft Word document my canvas and the Internet my ink. I’ve discovered that not just anyone can do this; it really does require a significant amount of creativity, wordsmithing and patience for fact-checking that not all possess (click here for more info on my unique process for writing trivia).

I’ve honestly had a love-hate relationship with writing questions, going all the way back to my earliest days of doing this. It’s hard coming up with material day-in, day-out that’s fun and challenging, appropriate and relevant to the expected audience. But I promise my clients high-quality content, and so I devote the time, effort and resources necessary to deliver. Sometimes this means staying up till midnight writing questions about Super Bowl history, pasta sauce recipes and oddly-named body parts like I did last night–but that’s the gig.

And I have serious doubts anyone else is doing it this way anymore.

The Rise of A.I.

As a side hobby last year (not that I’ve got the time, between work, raising two young kids and trying to stay physically/mentally fit) I decided to write a parody play for my synagogue as part of the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Purim. I spent literally months on it, scraping it together bits and pieces at a time, including not only dialogue but parody lyrics to well-known songs. It took a ton of energy and focus, and I devoted a huge amount of my left and right brainpower to craft it.

I am extremely proud of the finished work, and when I turned it in both the director and cast were thrilled. But to my astonishment, more than a few people came up to me and asked, quite seriously, if I’d had any help from ChatGPT.

Was I offended? No, not really. Was I surprised, however? You bet.

The same thing happens with trivia. Ever since those early Manhattan bar days in 2006 – eighteen years ago, my goodness – I’ve cranked out the material all by myself, using nothing more than my own brain and an Internet connection. Today, if I were so inclined, I could simply ask a chatbot to fetch me X number of questions on topic X, appropriate to an audience ages X to age Y primarily from geographic region X, and presto!

I mean, I could do that.

Why That’s B.S.

Particularly since the pandemic hit in 2020, the number of “trivia companies” out there has exploded. As I’ve written about previously, everyone and their mother decided to fly the quizzing flag in order to make a few extra dollars on Zoom, with the quality, experience and expertise of these online entrepreneurs reflected in the final product (spoiler: most aren’t very good).

Prior to that, vendors servicing primarily bar/restaurant clients would (and still do) Email canned, pre-written questions on a weekly basis to their subscribers, which they then hand over to whoever they’ve found on Craig’s List to read them out to their audiences.

The material used here is generic. It’s bland. It lacks nuance, wit or humor. It isn’t catered towards any specific audience, or tailored to any specific goal. It’s just…well, it seems like something spit out by a machine.

And it shows.

Sticking With What Works

After fifteen (err, I mean eighteen) years of doing this, I have come to the conclusion that the several thousand clients who’ve hired TrivWorks, often with repeat events, can’t be wrong. Sure, folks can go with a vendor who mass-produces questions at a bargain price, or even use the above tools to create material all on their own. However, the end result is intended to be consumed by people, not by machines.

And that requires a human touch.

After so much time doing this, after so many events produced/hosted, so many answer sheets graded, so many questions asked and answered for so many different types of audiences, I know what works for YOUR group, for YOUR event. I also know what doesn’t work. A.I. simply can’t replicate that.

If you want to spend as little money and time as possible, as with anything you get what you pay for, and I wish you well (and luck) on your event. But if you want it done right, bring aboard not a robot, but a real, live human who can make your event unforgettable!

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