The first time Tami Holmes-Gorsh went to a trivia night, she was surprised by two things: how many questions she got wrong and how intensely her team wanted to get every question right.
“They take it very seriously, and it’s truly a fierce competition,” Holmes-Gorsh, who now organizes one of the many trivia games that occur around the Quad-City region, said. “I didn’t realize how passionate people were about this game, but they’re all like a force to be reckoned with.”
At Blue Grass Community Club contests, which she organizes, about 300 people huddle in on trivia nights for 10 rounds of questions with topics ranging from music to movies to geography to serial killers.
“You can know something about one thing, but to know something about everything and all these little facts is tough,” she said. "It takes some adjusting to be really good."
With as many as 46 teams, players come from all over to play something akin to a sprawled-out board game.
“A lot of people ask me why so many people love trivia, and it’s a good question,” she said. “I’m not sure why, but they do.”
And not only in the small community of Blue Grass or one-time fundraisers. Trivia nights happen almost nightly in the Quad-Cities at venues ranging from church basements to bars.
On Wednesday nights, trivia lovers can test out their “useless information” at Me and Billy in downtown Davenport. The weekly event is hosted by Quad-Cities Trivia, an offshoot of Challenge Entertainment, a national real-life gaming company that brings trivia, bingo and scavenger hunts to about 40 cities.
Like other niche-forms of fun, the trivia trend has slowly trickled into the Quad-Cities, according to Jordan Lacina, area manager of the company.
“It’s basically a friendly atmosphere, you can hang out with your team and interact in a new way,” Lacina said. “You’re not just playing darts or something like that.”
That interaction is what Bethany Trolli likes about it.
“You don’t always want to go to the bar and go crazy on a weekday, so trivia gives you an excuse to go hang out with friends in a casual way,” Trolli, who has been to Me and Billy for trivia night a few times, said. “It's thrilling and it's fun to try to compete with people and dust off your random fun facts.”
Trolli says the goal is to assemble a team of people with various, individual trivia strengths.
"If you're really good at pop culture, you need someone who knows history," she said. "If you don't have that, you don't have a good chance of winning."
For her, it's not always about winning, though.
"Some people get into more than others," she said. "I like it because it feels like a unique way to be social."
Chip Foster owns Bar Wars Trivia, a Quad-City based company that hosts trivia at area bars from Sunday through Thursday. The former car salesman writes about 100 new questions each week to keep each evening fresh.
“I smile a lot more than I have with any other job,” Foster said. “You’re making people’s night and giving them something to focus on other than whatever ball game is on the TV."
While trivia in this form has probably been around since the “Trivial Pursuit” board games came out in the 1980s, Foster says the concept continues to be revamped, adding that the events draw 20-somethings and 30-somethings as well as older crowds. It's no longer reserved for nights-in.
"It's not stuffy or boring or quiet," Foster said, adding that he plays a song after each question. “It challenges you and gets you talking in a way you wouldn't otherwise."
Above all, it's entertaining.
"It's more than reading the cards and saying yes or no," he said. "The weirdness of my personality comes out when I'm hosting and I know it comes out at all of those tables — once you go once, you're hooked."
The regulars at Blue Grass trivia nights are hooked, too. The next night (which has a pirate theme) isn't until September, and Holmes-Gorsh is already putting together new rounds of questions.
"There’s people who are all-stars and people who are just there because someone invited them," she said. "When doing trivia, they're usually having a good time."