Jeopardy! has always been known as a trivia game show, creating and inspiring other merchandise in the form of board games, mobile apps, video games, and more. Until recently, I’d had no reason to doubt Jeopardy!’s status as a trivia game. However, it has come to my attention that it is not entirely so. In fact, one major element is missing. Can you guess what it is?
In this article, we focus on why Jeopardy! is indeed a trivia game. We also discuss why some people might believe it isn’t.
Is Jeopardy! Trivia?
Jeopardy! is a television game show that invites contestants to answer trivia questions for a chance to win a big (or small) cash prize. From most descriptions of the game show, you find online, you can derive that Jeopardy! is a trivia game on a large scale. Instead of challenging their group of friends or playing against strangers on the internet, contestants meet their competitors in an iconic showdown on national TV. There is also a lot more at stake. The prizes are not your usual Amazon gift cards and vouchers for free dinners; the players compete for tens of thousands of dollars.
If we put all of that aside, Jeopardy! is just like any other regular trivia game. That idea is further supported by the numerous Jeopardy! trivia board and mobile games. Let’s get into some more reasons why we consider Jeopardy! a real trivia game.
Question and Answer Quiz Format
How would you describe a trivia game to a friend that has never watched or taken part in one? It is a game in which players must answer random questions and show their knowledge in various categories for a chance to win a prize, or simply walk away feeling like the smartest person in the room. Not only do your answers have to be accurate, but you also must be the fastest out of all the players.
If that’s pretty close to your description of a trivia game, you’ve just described Jeopardy! In Jeopardy!, contestants have to show off their knowledge in different categories, including pop culture, history, geography, science, sports, and literature. They do so by selecting categories and answering questions proposed by the host. Being right is not enough. The winner is also the fastest to buzz in their answers.
This type of question-and-answer format is present in most trivia quizzes. It serves as the basis for the competition. It is also easy to judge each contestant or player based on two factors: their speed and their answer.
The definition of trivia, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is, “trivial facts or details,” as well as “a quizzing game involving obscure facts.” Judging by this definition, a trivia quiz should consist of questions that the average person would not know the answer to. “Obscure facts” is the perfect way to describe most trivia questions.
Judging by that description, a school quiz you receive in every class at the end of the semester, or a personality quiz you take to find out what type of bread you are, do not fit in the trivia category. The average Jeopardy! quiz, however, does. The questions on Jeopardy! fall into different categories. Contestants encounter some commonly known categories like science and entertainment, as well as wild cards like song lyrics and four-letter words.
Trivia Game Elements
Other trivia game elements, besides questions and answers, categories, and obscure questions, include prizes, timed rounds, a host, and multiple players. Jeopardy! has all of those! There are three players competing against each other. The host is in charge of asking the questions, collecting the answers, and announcing the winners. They also make sure the contestants aren’t cheating. Though it’s not always clear how each round is timed, the contestants only get a few seconds to think of their answer and buzz it in.
Arguments Against Jeopardy! Being Trivia
Because Jeopardy! is one of the most popular TV game shows in North America, I find it hard to believe that some people don’t think of it as a trivia game. Nevertheless, that is the truth. The only real, reasonable argument against Jeopardy! being trivia is the fact that the host doesn’t ask questions.
That’s right, the obscure format of the “questions” (or clues) has stirred some conversation. Instead of asking questions that end with a question mark, the host simply gives the contestants a clue. The contestants then must produce an answer and present it in the form of a question. The clue format is not a tradition in trivia quizzes, so it’s understandable how it could cause confusion.
It is undoubtable that Jeopardy! contains some elements that are uncommon for a traditional trivia game. However, we strongly believe that Jeopardy! still belongs to the trivia category. After all, it is a game of questions and answers where you can learn (or show off) some very unique, though absolutely useless, knowledge.
What are your thoughts on Jeopardy! being called a trivia game? Have you started to doubt its status as trivia? Why, or why not? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!