Thursday, October 23, 2008

The end of Encarta encyclopedia?

It looks like the reign of Encarta as the leader in consumer electronic encyclopedias is coming to an end. With the release of Microsoft Student, the amount of encyclopedic content added was slowing down, with an emphasize shifting towards homework tools. Starting around the same time in 2006, the amount of articles and media have fluctuated as well, sometimes going down and then gradually increasing as "improved features" for the next year. Coincidently, in July 2006 Microsoft contracted out the maintenance of Encarta to Websters Multimedia Inc, a subsidiary of UK-based Websters International Publishers. According to Webster's website, the majority of their editorial team have worked in house for Microsoft as either staff or contractors.

Having worked in the software industry and have gone through the slow and agonizing downsizing of a company due to changing markets, this does not look good for the continuing survival of Encarta as an leading-edge education product. Here are some thoughts on this conjecture.

1. The slowing down of adding innovative features and content shows the product is reaching maturity status, with no expected new growth and just a steady or even declining customer base.

2. The contracting of maintenance means the management does not see the product as fitting in their core-focus to maximizing return on investment, and it is time to phase it out. Reading between the lines from Websters statement that "the majority of their editorial team have worked in house for Microsoft as either staff or contractors", it sounds like the editorial team from Encarta was laid off but was luckily rehired by Websters. This follows a classic path of phasing out a product.

3. A disc-based encyclopedia no longer has the the killer-app factor as it had in the late 1990's, so value of an associated encyclopedia brand does not add much value to the company. Of the old competitors, such as Comptons, Grolier, World Book and Britannica, only Britannica survived in the consumer market. Of the new competitors such as Wikipedia, companies have only limited success in convincing consumers that convenient, edited, accurate and objective content is worth paying for.

4. The marketing of Encarta 2009 is greatly reduced. The 2009 edition of Encarta does not appear to be available at the retail level yet. Usually the next year edition of Encarta is available by August or September, by so far it appears to be available only as a direct purchase from Microsoft. Some product links on the Microsoft site still points to previous version of the product (from 2006 to 2008), no press release have been written, and viewing the current product information requires the installation of Silverlight. This all seems to point to a phase out.

As a fan of reference works, it is a little sad to see how Encarta is slowly ending.
Having bought and used Encarta over the last decade, I can look back with fond memories: browsing through what seems like an infinite list of articles; following the evolution of the user interface interface; feel the excitement with major additions of content such the sidebars, the Collier yearbooks, and the book summaries. Thank you Encarta for being part of my lifelong learning.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Encarta: upgrade to get less?

Microsoft Encarta gives you less when you upgrade.
Year # articles # pictures # sound clips #animations
2005 68,000 25,000 2,800 400
2006 68,000 25,000 2,500 300
2007 66,000 26,000 3,000 300
2008 60,000 25,000 3,800 800 (incl. activities)
2009 62,000 ? ? ?

In using Student 2006 and Student 2009, less encyclopedic content is evident everywhere. The number of articles has been reduced by 6000. The number of media in articles were reduced. The video of the Return of Hong Kong was replaced by a picture, and the picture was listed under the video section. Excerpts from Chinese philosophical texts were removed. The number of virtual tours were reduced by half. The book summaries no longer have a list by title option. And the list can go on.

In the old days, when the storage capacity of the delivery media is a limiting factor (e.g. a CD holds 600M), some features are scaled back to make room for new features. An example was the removal of "collages" in Encarta. But in the modern era of high capacity DVDs, and when there is more than a gigabyte of space left on a DVD, it makes much less sense to reduce multimedia and article counts. In releases of Encarta from 2005 to 2008, there is always something that is reduced. Remaining space on the delivery medium certainly cannot be a factor.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

trivia game gameplay

Here are some thoughts about making a generic trivia game.

- individual or team play
- playable with 2 players?
- trivia as central feature or sidekick
- knowledge vs strategy vs luck to win

Here are some common rules in trivia games

- Each player answers a fixed number of questions. The most correct answers wins.
- Each player answers a question in turn. The first to reach the winning square or scoring configuration wins.
- Each players rolls and selects a category question to answer, until they get one wrong. Some squares give category credits. The first to get all category credits and answer final question wins.
- Each player in turn chooses an answer from multiple choice question. Other players predict and wager N squares. Right/wrong predictions moves wager player ahead/back N squares. First to get the last square wins.
- Each player in turn asks other_team/other_team_member/own_leader a question. A right answer moves other/other/own team ahead. A wrong answer moves own/own/other team ahead, and nothing/swap teams with member/become own team's leader. After a team reaches final square, leader who answers a question correctly wins.

Some of my ideas

- A player can answer up to three questions or until a wrong answer, which ever comes first. A correct answers moves ahead one square. Nothing happens for a wrong answer on Q1. On the optional Q2,Q3 right answer is +1, wrong answer puts you back to the original square (i.e. you lose all your gains). This also scales up to more than three questions.

- Some gameplay should involve special squares on the board.

- Instead of categories, have six classes of cards. Move around an interesting board to land each of six special squares to earn token.
- Or have different Achievements to get, such as getting 2-in-a-row, open question and be minority who knows answer

Dark trivial forces rising

Dave and Devon discuss some recent observation in the ongoing battle to get good trivia games at thrift stores.

Devon: I don't see the "big corporate store" really as a friendly force based on some of our recent purchases.

Dave: I fully agree. They appear to have some system to price games based on condition, so that a poorer looking box of TP1 can go for $2 while a newer looking one will be $3. But that is definitely not applied consistently. We've seen and bought games with missing pieces that is going at the regular price.

Devon: And sometimes the missing parts are vital to play. For example, one game Outburst requires using a clear red filter to be able to see the answers. That piece was missing from the game, thus making gameplay impossible. That clearly should have been a criteria to classifiy the game as broken.

Dave: We also seen a set of pentominoes with a piece missing, going for regular price. I feel sorry for whoever bought that thinking it might be complete.

Devon: Yet our competitors doesn't seem rattled by this. They've been on a frenzy lately.

Dave: They picked up all three of the generation TP's (The 1980's, Pop Culture, and DVD edition), all three of the TP1's, Simpons Battle of the Sexes and both Outburst Jr's within a few days.

Devon: Either there are many people with a sudden interest in trivia games, or someone is flipping these for a profit.

Dave: If it is a profit-monger, why didn't they get the SNL and Cheers trivia games as well? Or first getting the TP Millennium edition for $10. Or not getting the other games such as IQ 2000 or Who wants to be a millionaires?

Devon: This pattern of contradictions shows the sign of multiple hunters at work, each with their own agenda.

Dave: A greedy source and multiple rivals... this might be happening everywhere. Game makers should be paying attention.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ideas for using trivia resources

Dave and Devon discuss what they might do with the trivia boardgames being collected.

Dave: When I bought the first trivia game -- Trivial Pursuit, the main purpose was to collect trivia games to use them as information resources. In other words, I'm treating them like books on cards.

Devon: Then we found out there are too many editions of TP to get them all, and in fact there were many other trivia games available. There were trivia categories that we had little interest in. So getting "all" trival games was not practical given budget and storage limitations.

Dave: I found that I have more interest in the science questions, and had an spark of an idea to use them for personal projects. So the purchase criteria focused on getting games with Science questions. The current plan is to do an online quiz or a question of the day generator for websites.

Devon: Or maybe even a simple game in Perl. That might lead to an interactive kiosk application that could be useful as an activity station in a learning centre or in a science centre.

Dave: The first major hurdle is entering the questions. Manual data entry is very resource intensive. Scanning might be useful, but my OCR program isn't very good.

Devon: Practical consideration aside, what about making our own trivia game, using the existing cards as the source of questions. It could be a general trivia game, just plug in your own questions.

Dave: That's sounds like a very good project idea. We always have opinions about other people's game design, so it's time to walk in another pair of shoes.

Devon: Another idea, if we have the proper storage environment, is to display the boxes of cards along side the reference books, treating them like printed sources of trivia.

Dave: Would there be any copyright issues involved in using the questions in our own product?

Devon: Trivia represent known facts, and cannot be copyrighted. Using an entire collection verbatim might be a problem, but using a combination from different sources is just ordinary research and data gathering. After all, when the trivia questions were created they came from different sources too.

Dave: It is the game design and gameplay that can fall under copyright. But the general concept of answering trivia questions for points is a well known idea already.

Devon: So the first question would be "When did the first edition of Science Trivia Universe first appear?"

Monday, July 21, 2008

Trivia games that got away

Dave and Devon reflect on the trivia games that they didn't collect.

Devon: We hesitated on certain trivia board games, which were then promptly snapped up by our competitors. On hindsight, some of them could have been worthwhile buys.

Dave: How true. The Da Vinci Quest was one such game. With categories such as Genius and the Grail, People Places, Faith and Fable, and Quest Curiosities, it encompassed science, religion and mysticism all in one theme.

Devon: The geography game was another interesting one. It used geographic trivia, flags of the world, world map locations, and captial cities as categories. Geography buffs may be the only ones who know enough to play it.

Dave: Ditto for the Chapters game, where you need to have read a large collection of books, or manage a bookstore or library, to answer the variety of questions.

Devon: Then there are other category specific ones based on Friends, SNL, and sports that we didn't even open. I think there was also one for Lord of the Rings.

Dave: One family oriented trivia game has two questions on each side of the card, both on the same category. The top one is easier and meant for kids, while the more difficult one is on the bottom for adults.

Devon: How about the slew of "over priced" Trivial Pursuits such as the DVD edition, 20th anniversary edition or Millennium edition. There were only $3-$6 higher than average, but that was enough to lower the value proposition below our comfort zone.

Dave: But we did get the Junior edition and also Table Talk (food themed) and they only had about 1200 questions, so their value was actually less than the pricier ones. The value rationale may need a little fine-tuning.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Elements of a good trivia game

With a slowing growing collection of trivia board games but not any actual gameplay, Dave and Devon conjecture about what makes a good trivia game.

Devon: Although factors such as gameplay and design are important issues, I think the most vital part is the trivia questions themselves.

Dave: I agree. When one plays a trivia game, it really comes down to the challenge of answering the questions. The game Super Quiz even omits the board and pieces, and highlights that as an advantage of being able to be played anywhere.

Devon: I like questions that you can almost answer right, but still has to put some thought into it.

Dave: Questions can't be too easy, but also can't be too obscure. That's the challenge of fact based questions. If it is too field specific, only specialists can answer. One example was the Chapters boardgame, where one really needs to be very well read, or work as a librarian, to get many of the questions. At least that's what I thought as someone who's not into fiction, literature or history. Likewise trivia based on sports or a particular media series (e.g. Friends, Lord of the Rings) have very segmented appeal -- you have to like both the topic and playing trivia.

Devon: The generation based questions have a similar disadvantage. If you grew up during that era, then you can relate to many of the questions. But everyone else would be completely stumped. This almost shows that it is difficult to have a trivia game that appeals to the general population.

Dave: There are several things that help with alleviating the difficulty of the questions. One is to put hints in the question itself to help trigger your memory. Jeopardy does a good job of that. Some games split questions into easy and hard categories, which I think is a nice way too. Another way is to use multiple choice questions. And as for the problem of having to score in every category, I saw a game where you have to get N credits, where each category is limited to a max of 2 or 3 credits. This is a nice way to overcome being stronger in some categories and weaker in others.

Devon: There's also brain teaser type of questions used in Mindtrap and Wit's End. They are more problem solving oriented rather than fact oriented. That transcends the generation and knowledge issues, but could put-off those who hate problem solving.

Dave: Gameplay also plays a minor role in enjoying the game. TP allows another turn when a correct answer is given, which allows one person extended play while others are just waiting. One way to overcome that is to stop the turn when a wedge is obtained.

Devon: Interestingly, the game In Pursuit, by the makers of Trivia Pursuit, does away with the wedges altogether. Instead, it is a race by 2 teams, but at the end only the "team leader" will win. On your turn, you ask the question to the other team, and one team will move ahead depending on the correctness of the ansewr. This speeds up gameplay, keeps more people involved, and makes for a good mix of teamwork and an internal race.

Dave: The games Psychologizer and TP Bet You Know It have you predicting other player's guess, but uses a wager amount to reflect the confidence of your answer. That adds an interesting element to the voting process.

Devon: And the game Numaro has all numeric answers, and everyone makes a guess. The person who is closest to move ahead. This is good because you can be way off, but as long as you are closer you still have a chance.

Dave: As with game design and play testing, one has to play the game to get a feel to see if the rules work out as well as they seem on paper.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bargain hunting price inconsistencies

With the recent discovery of possible competitors to Dave and Devon's quest for question based boardgames, the plot takes another unexpected turn with ... betrayal!

(Dave and Devon had just returned from an excursion from a thrift store)

Devon: I still can't believe those prices... and such limited selection of games.

Dave: I'm surprised too. I thought stores from the same chain would have similar pricing. The store close to our house was the one that had TP and other games for $2. Yet the same stores, albeit in a more upscale neighborhood, were selling games for $5-$6.

Devon: And those were the same games that the "big corporate store" were selling for $3. Perhaps we have aligned ourselves with the wrong axis.

Dave: It could be most larger chains are expensive, and our nearby store is a renegade. I noticed that they have a "sub-lease" sign out right now. So they are probably not making enough money to cover the rent.

Devon: That makes for an interesting dilemma. We like the nearby store because of their lower prices. But to help them survive we have to want to pay higher prices, which makes them no different than other stores. But if they don't survive then we have to shop in the more expensive stores anyways. So either way we have to pay more. The only difference is whether the store is one block or ten minutes drive away.

Dave: But let's also remember that the games are still at least 1/4 of what the regular retail price would be, if they were still available.

Devon: I wonder if our expectations would be the same if we bought the first TP game for $4 instead.

Bargain hunting competitors

In the fiercely competitive, dog-eat-dog world of bargain hunting high drama, I've portrayed myself and my alter ego Devon as the protagonists. But for each protagonist there must also be an antagonist. And now, I sense a disturbance in the force. There maybe another...

Devon: What gave you the suspicion that we have a competitor?

Dave: In the past several weeks, we've made multiple trips to the thrift stores. I've noticed what was still on the shelf, and what was disappearing within days. And it is the uncommon question-based boardgames that are moving fast. Take for example the geography game that we looked at but didn't get.

Devon: That was an interesting one. It had four types of questions: geography trivia, capitals, flags, and map locations. I had wanted to get that because of its uniqueness and educational value, but you thought our geography knowledge was too weak to fully appreciate it.

Dave: In hindsight, you were right. That game was gone in a few days. The Da Vinci boardgame was another example, with categories in covering both science, religion and mysticism, and the renaissance.

Devon: The reason we didn't get it was because of the price, $6 for around 800 questions. The question/dollar ratio from TP really have spoiled us.

Dave: That game too was gone in a few days. So someone with a bigger budget is snatching these up.

Devon: Maybe it was just general moving of the merchandise.

Dave: But there are two telltale signs from what didn't move. The standard items such as Scrabble and Clue Jr are still there. Common question based games such as TP1, Balderdash, Pictionary, Outburst are still there.

Devon: So it is the uncommon question based games that go fast. Just like what happens when we visit.

Dave: Someone has the same interest as us. And remember the stack of TP's and the People Magazine boardgame in the other store. They were also gone relatively fast.

Devon: Must it be the work of a single person? Perhaps there is no conspiracy and it is just a bunch of regular shoppers picking up the good stuff.

Dave: If it was just regular people, I would be surprised if they all focus on the same genre of games. This would mean I underestimated how popular trivia games are. But the decline of trivia games seem to contradict that view. And the worst case scenario is that there are several trivia hunters out there.

Devon: Wow, I never thought a $1 purchase could lead into such intrigue and tension.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

thoughts while browsing in a thrift store

Is there any etiquette for bargain hunting?

When you are looking at several boardgames, is it OK for someone pickup something that you have just put down, but intend to look at again while you think about it? Is it consider greedy to hang on to several items, knowing that you'll buy only one or none, just to keep other greedy hands away? The term bargain hunting says it all -- it is a hunt and the survival of the fittest. Do what you have to do before your competitors do it to you. For example, I was look at the game Tri-Bond, where you are given three things and have to find out what they have in common. I was undecided because some of the questions are generation specific. Not wanting to be a hog, I put the game back on the shelf while I pondered and browsed, then someone else came and picked it up. Evidently careful consideration of budgetary spending and showing consideration for your fellow human beings means getting trampled. Next time I'm hiding the box behind other stuff...

What's with the sealed boxes of games?

If I'm going to part with my hard earned dollar (or four in the case of big corporate thrift stores such as "VV") then by gosh I'll want to make sure I'm getting all the parts in some reasonable condition. I understand the stores want to keep the parts from spilling all over the shelf from uncaring browsers, but taped up boxes just mean I'll either ignore it, or more likely covertly take the tape apart so I can check the contents. I've seen a box of pentominoes that had one of the twelve pieces missing, and the store VV was still selling it for $2 like it was an untarnished item. If they have a reasonably knowledgable staff that can price boardgames from $2 to $10, then surely they can quality check better or price incomplete stuff appropriately.

Where's the really good games?

I have yet to see top-rated games such as Carcassonne in a thrift store. Is is because those games are so good and replayable that no one gives them away? Or so popular that they are instantly snatched up by boardgame-savvy public? Or is the distribution for those games so limited that not many people even have it? I suspect it is a combination of the first and last reasons. I've never seen Carcassonne in my local ToysRUs (though they did have Settlers of Catan), and a collectible store only had it for a little while. I consider myself lucky for finding Amazeing Labyrinth and Numaro (2007) for a bargain.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

trivia questions in bulk

My alter ego Devon and I had a chat about my developing love-hate relationship with thrift stores.

Devon: I thought bargain shopping is all about thrill of the hunt. When did it become an emotional issue?

Dave: In visiting nearby thrift stores, I've noticed these stores can also reflect typical issues in retail marketing. One example is the difference in the "little guy" vs "big corporation". The stores operated by non-profit organizations tend to be smaller, have less selection, but lower prices. For example, one table for boardgames, and most are fifty cents to two dollars. The stores operated by multi-national companies are bigger, have more selection, and higher prices. For example, several shleves of boardgames, with prices ranging from three to ten dollars.

Devon: I see, so it comes down to money. You want good stuff for less, but reality is based on getting you to pay more for less.

Dave: It's closer to say it comes down to value. When I bought the first Trival Pursuit (6000 questions) for $1 in a smaller store, that's good value. That's 6000 questions per dollar (Q/$). Even if I only want one category such as science, that still works out to 1000 Q/$. Then came TP4 for $1, which is 4800-800 Q/$. In a bigger store, the price starts at $3, so that's a sudden drop in value. I picked up TP6 with 4800 Q's for $4. The value of that ranges from 1200-200 Q/$, which is a big drop from the expectations set by the first two purchases. And TP Millennium edition in the big store was $10, which I did not get. The value of that, assumming 4800 Q's, would be 480-80 Q/$, which is ridiculously low. For comparison, one of the $1 Professor Noggin trivial games I got at a small store, has 30 cards and 180 questions and thus has a already low value of 180 Q/$. Another example is a Da Vinci trivia game at the big store, 800 Q's for $6, which is 133 Q/$.

Devon: But there must be more to trivia boardgames than just questions per dollar.

Dave: There are, such as quality of questions, subject matter, board and game design. But since the core of the game is in the questions, that takes up a significant part of the value equation. And I am in it for building up a collection of trivia reference, so the number of questions really is everything.

Devon: So you love the big store because they have better stuff you want, but you hate to pay a few dollars more?

Dave: Sad to say, that sums it up in a nutshell. Once I was in a store and heard someone haggling with the clerk about how something she bought a week ago was only fifty cents, and now it was a dollar and she refuses to pay that extra fifty cents. At that time I thought such is the pathos of modern life, stressing your neurons for just fifty cents. And now, I emote the same angst over two dollars.

And while I'm on the soapbox, here is another example. The big store had a TP Disney edition, and inside was also the TP2 questions. So I was excited at such a find, until I saw the price. Six dollars. A regular TP with box, board and pieces is $3. So I am actually paying the same price for TP2, but without the board and pieces. Love and hate, such internal drama in a thrift store.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Whither the reference books

A conversation about reference books overheard in Dave's mindscape.

Devon: Hey Dave, there are some new editions of science dictionaries available, namely Oxford Dictionary of Chemistry, and Biology. Are you going to get them?

Dave: With only 200-300 new entries in each one, I don't think that provides enough value to purchase a newer edition. I bought the current ones in 2006, and they're the 2003/2004 editions, so the contents are reasonably recent. This brings to mind the whole issue of printed reference works in the digital age -- are they still relevant?

Devon: I think that's the Achilles heel with any printed reference works -- not being up to date. You mentioned this issue in talking about buying printed science dictionaries before, that books still have the advantage of being portable, editor reviewed, and at times convenient.

Dave: Those advantages still hold true, although the quality of web information has improved too, and the updated aspects is a strong plus for internet information. This issue is exemplified by another recent quandary. I saw a used and good condition set of Encyclopedia Britannica in a thrift store. It was the 15th edition from 1976. $60 for the 20 volumes of Macropedia plus Propedia, and $40 for the set of 10 volumes of Micropedia.

Devon: At less than $5 per volume, that seems like a great buy, considering a new set costs $1300. That's about 1/13 the price!

Dave: That's right, yet the key drawback that stopped me from buying that impressive shelf anchor piece is that it is more than thirty years old. Furthermore, I could get the Britannica 2008 software for less than half that price. While the historic, biographical and fundamental information is still accurate, science and recent world developments in the last quarter century will be missing.

Devon: I can see why the printed encyclopedia market is in decline. If there was no digital alternative, the thrift store buy would be excellent. But the low-cost software and free internet sources available, spending $1000 or even $100 for a outdated dead-tree version doesn't seem to make sense anymore.

Dave: There were other encyclopedias at the thrift store too, such as World Book, Colliers, and New Book of Knowledge. And also CD encyclopedias such as Grolier's, Compton's, and Encarta from the before 1999. So in a sense all non-internet encyclopedias also face the same problem.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Trivia generation gap

My alter ego Devon noticed something about the categories of questions in subsequent Trivial Pursuit (TP) editions, and had a discussion with me about it.

Devon: The first edition of TP had what I think are more cerebral categories, or at least more academic sounding, such as Geography, Art and Literature. In later editions you have People and Places, and Arts was rolled into Arts and Entertainment. And with more pop culture categories in other editions, I've read that some trivia fans lament this "dumbing down" of the questions.

Dave: I wouldn't used quite harsh a term as dumbing down, but there is definitely a trend in replacing field-specific knowledge questions with generation-based, pop culture questions.

Devon: How do you distinguish between those two types of questions?

Dave: For field-specific knowledge, one can imagine a history buff, a science geek, a well-read bookworm, a well-travelled person, etc. These can be people of any age. They don't have to be working in that field, just have an interest. Through reading anyone can gain field-specific knowledge.

For generation-based knowledge, it is based on what one experienced during a specific time, usually while in the teens to early thirties. For example, the "baby boomers" have more knowledge of the pop culture trivia related to the 1950's and 1960's than say their parents or their children.

Devon: In other words, field-specific knowledge can be had by a larger group of people, and generation knowledge by a smaller group. So why would trivia game makers opt for something that caters to a smaller group?

Dave: It turns out there are much more people who are knowledgable about generation specific trivia than people who are knowledgeable about a wide variety of general trivia. One might say that generation specific trivia is in fact the "general" trivia that everyone knows a lot about, because it was something they grew up with. But field-specific trivia is more specialized, and very few people are good with arts and science and history and sports and entertainment.

Devon: What would be your ideal categories for a field-specific trivia game?

Dave: I would love to have a Science based Trivial Pursuit, with the six categories being Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Technology, and Multiplicity (other branches of science).

Friday, June 13, 2008

Statistics on question-based boardgames

Here are some statistics on the question-based board games that I have. Like much trivia, they make for trivial collection and might be of interest to other trivia fans.

Game Year # Questions/
Genre: Categories
Acronym 1985 3456 words: Corporations, Products & Slogans, Agencies, Proverbs, Science, Sports & Rebuses, Movies, Music
Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?2007 600/300general
Battle of the Sexes 1990 672/224 male vs female: 92 "Countdown" couples or movies with 3 hints, 120 "Showdown" categories
Beginner's Marathon 1991 2500/600 general kids
Bezzerwizzer 2008 3000/150 general: architecture, art & stage, business world, communities, design, film, food & drink, geography, history, humans, language, literature, music, nature, politics, science, sports & games, technology, traditions & beliefs, TV & radio
Buzzword 2003 400/200 words
Chalengah 1995 400 brain teaser
Cranium Primo 2001 800 brain teaser
Cranium Turbo 2004 1000 brain teaser
Don't Quote Me Kids2005 1000/200 general: action, faces & places, human hands, books arts music, what on earth
Gender Bender 1988 350 male vs female
Gender Gap 1997 620 male vs female
Global Watch 1991 2400/600 Nature: Environment, Living World, Science and Tech, Geography
Gray Matter 2002 1000/500 general
Huggermugger 1989 2000/400 words: anagram, spell, definition, potluck
In Pursuit2002 2400/400 general: Who & Where, Pop Culture, Headlines, Science & Tech, Sports & Games, Wild Card
Inquizitive1984 2304 general: education, history, geography, science, books & music, TV & film, sports, inquizitive
IQ 20002000 2000/500 general kids: General, Storybook, Heroes & Villians, Cartoons & TV, Language Arts, Animals, Games and Sports
Jeopardy 1992 2040/204 general
Judge for Yourself1999 500 legal dilemma
Malarky 1999 942/314 general
Men are from Mars... 1998 720/360 male vs female: Family Affair, Communication, Scoring Points, Gender Benders, Dating Circuit, Island Fantasies, In the Flesh
Mindtrap 1991 512 brain teasers and lateral thinking
National Geographic Global Pursuit 1987 972/324 Geography: Historic Happenings, People and Places, People and Products, Planet Earth, Wildcard
National Geographic Global Pursuit set 2 cards1988 795/265 Geography: Historic Happenings, People and Places, People and Products, Planet Earth, Wildcard
National Geographic Mission: Survival 1995 1000/250 Nature: Rain Forest, Desert, Mountain, Ocean
Newsweek Ultimate Trivia 1984 3000/500 general: history, geography, biz/eco/math/sci/tech, arts, showbiz, misc
Numaro2007 1800/300general numbers
Outburst Junior 1989 400/200 category kids
Picture Pursuit1994 2100/350 general: People & Places, Art & Entertainment, History, Science & Nature, Sports & Leisure, Wild Card; 208 picture puzzles
Professor Noggin's Creatures of Myth and Legend Card Game2005 180/30 Mythology; kids games
Professor Noggin's Dinosaur Card Game2002 180/30 Dinosaurs; kids games
Psychologizer 1990 600 personality: Love & Sex, Philosophy, Current Events, Sports & Recreation, Morality, Personality
PunchLines Comedy Game 1985 1600/200 Comedy tasks: Impersonations, Riddles, One Liners, Limericks, Groaners, Tongue Twisters, Culture Jokes, Story Jokes
Scruples 1984 245 dilemma
Scruples 2nd Edition1986 240 dilemma
Scruples '90s Edition 1990 240 dilemma
Snap Judgement1985 700 legal dilemma
Super Quiz1982 5760/960general: sports, history, science, geography, words, movies
Super Quiz II1983 5760/960general: mostly music, TV, spelling, famous people, leisure & travel, potluck
Table Talk 1995 1200 food and cooking
Taboo 1989 1008/504 words
Telepaths 1992 720/360 words
Tribond 1989 1300/300 category: Entertainment, Sports & Recreation, Academics, Misc
Tribond Kids 1996 1100/200 category kids
Will Shortz Tribond 2010 1308/327 category
Trivial Pursuit I 1983 6000/1000 general: Geography, Entertainment, History, Art & Literature, Science & Nature, Sports & Leisure
Trivial Pursuit Genus II 1984 6000/1000 general: Geography, Entertainment, History, Art & Literature, Science & Nature, Sports & Leisure
Trivial Pursuit Genus III 1994 4800/800 general: People & Places, Art & Entertainment, History, Science & Nature, Sports & Leisure, Wild Card
Trivial Pursuit Genus IV 1997 4800/800 general: People & Places, Art & Entertainment, History, Science & Nature, Sports & Leisure, Wild Card
Trivial Pursuit Genus V 2000 4800/800 general: People & Places, Art & Entertainment, History, Science & Nature, Sports & Leisure, Wild Card
Trivial Pursuit Genus 6 2003 4800/800 general: People & Places, Art & Entertainment, History, Science & Nature, Sports & Leisure, Wild Card
Trivial Pursuit Baby Boomers 1983 6000/1000 pop culture: Television, Stage & Screen, Nightly News, Publishing, Lives & Times, RPM (Music)
Trivial Pursuit Bet You Know It 2009 1782/297 general: Geography, Entertainment, History, Art & Literature, Science & Nature, Sports & Leisure
Trivial Pursuit Disney Family Edition1985 6000/1000 general kids: Places, Music, People, Fantasy, Science, Leisure
Trivial Pursuit for Kids Volume 6 2004 1200/200 general kids: All About Nature, Fun & Games, Today & Tomorrow, Whatever, Yesterday, Music Movies & More
Trivial Pursuit Junior 4th Edition 1996 1200/200 general kids: Stories & Songs, Games, Every Day, Fun, Nature, Science
Trivial Pursuit Lord of the Rings 2003 1800/300 pop culture: Good Characters, Evil Characters, Things, Places & History, Warfare, Making Movies
Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture 2003 1800/300
(+??? on DVD)
pop culture: TV, Fads, Buzz, Music, Movies, Sports and Games
Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture 2 2005 1800/300
(+600 on DVD)
pop culture: TV, Fads, Buzz, Music, Movies, Sports and Games
Trivial Pursuit The 1980's 1989 4800/800 pop culture: Entertainment, In the News, Personalities, Sports & Leisure, That's Life, Wild Card
Trivial Pursuit The 90's 2004 2400/400 pop culture: Oops (Mistakes), Wired (Tech), Viewing (Media), Trends (Pop culture), Important (News), Hanging (Leisure)
Trivial Pursuit TV Edition1991 4800/800 pop culture: Classics, Sitcoms, Drama, Kids & Games, Stars, Wild Card
Trivial Pursuit 20th Anniversary 2002 3600/600 general: Global View, Written Word, Sound & Screen, Innovations, News, Game Time
Trivial Pursuit 25th Anniversary 2008 2592/432 general: Geography, Entertainment, History, Art & Literature, Science & Nature, Sports & Leisure
Trivial Pursuit Young People 1984 6000/1000 general kids: People & Places, Good Times, Science & Tech, Art & Culture, Natural World, Games & Hobbies
Ultimate Outburst 1999 600/300 category
Urban Myth 2002 1000/700 pop culture: Celebrity, Health, Classics, Nature, Business, Crime
What the F*ck2004432 dilemma
Who Wants to be a Millionaire2000 2000/1000general
Who Wants to be a Millionaire Junior2000 1000/500general
Wise and Otherwise 1997 2500/500 cultural sayings
Wit's End 1999 1600/400 brain teasers: Teaser (analogy), Odd One Out, Sequence, Wild Card
Yuk Yuk's Comedy Game 1990 512 comedy: 125 opener cards, 387 closer cards

Our inner vulture -- or return to boardgames

I've been buying used board games lately, so my alter ego Devon talked to me about my thoughts and experiences on this current fad.

Devon: I know you like reference books. So what got you interested in trivia board games?

Dave: I was searching for information on a tile-shifting board game called The Amazeing Labyrinth. That lead me to discover the tile-placing board game called Carcassonne, which in turn peaked my curiosity in boardgames in general. I had played board games when I was young, but have not played it as an adult. This new curiosity to revisit something new yet familiar, combined with an interest in reference and trivia information, and the thrill of getting a bargain at a thrift store, lead to the purchase of some used, question-based board games.

Devon: I see from your list of games there several are from the Trivial Pursuit family.

Dave: Having been to only two thrift stores, I can non-scientifically state that the game of Trivial Pursuit is a staple item in thrift stores. I suppose the nature of question-based games lead to their non-replayability after awhile, so its off to find them a new owner. I did notice that the original Trivial Pursuit (Master's Game Genus Edition) tend to have more copies than its many other editions and expansions.

Devon: TP was very popular, but given its popularity, why wouldn't there be more used sequels available?

Dave: My guess is that since trivia fans will collect the games, they won't be giving up their gems easily. Thus it is up to the general public to release their copies. But the non-trivial-buff public probably would have bought only TP, played it and enjoyed it but not so much as to buy more of the same because they only know a minority of the answers and what's the fun in looking like a hermit around the smug know-it-all's. Hmm, come to think of it that's why I didn't get into the Trivial Pursuit craze.

Devon: So why are you buying questions-based games now, given that you actually have little interest or time or trivia comrades in playing them?

Dave: The hunter-gatherer experience encoded in our genes can be expressed, or in modern parlance get dead stuff for less. The essence of questions-based games are in the questions. Through years of blood, sweat and tears the game creators came up with intellectual property that now lie in decrepit boxes and can be had for one dollar.

Devon: That sounds like a sad ending, like the dinosaurs.

Dave: I say that not as a statement of lament, rather as a statement of joy. Those games' journey are not yet over, for they, like used books, have found a new home where their eclectic knowledge can sit side by side with universally recognized tomes such as dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Devon: So your inner vulture is just an admirer.