Many people enjoy playing trivia games online or with friends in the comfort of their own homes. Playing with friends is undeniably fun and nothing feels as comfortable as your beloved couch, right? Though charming, this experience can’t be compared to that of playing against multiple other teams in a bar or pub.
The game becomes much more intense and competitive when there is a prize involved. Even with no prize, there is just something about the atmosphere of a pub quiz. Playing against other people you don’t know can give you a rush that playing against your friends never would!
Trivia Night: How Does it Work?
So, you want to attend a trivia night and don’t know how it works. You came to the right place! It’s actually quite simple.
Register your team: You need to assemble a team and register your team prior to the game. There are often limitations to the number of team members in one team, so be sure to find out how many people you can play with. You should be able to find detailed information about the trivia night on the event invitation or the website of the venue and/or organizer.
The point of the game is to test your knowledge and reward the team with the highest number of points in the end. There are often prizes involved to keep you motivated. The game itself is really quite simple. If you’ve registered your team, all you have left to do is win! Here is the game step-by-step:
Arrive at the pub: Once you arrive at the pub, you will be seated at a table with your team. You’ll find that you’ll be surrounded by other tables occupied by teams that you will be competing against. Everyone will have a fair chance to play and win.
Rounds and questions: The game will have multiple rounds with multiple questions in each round. Usually, there are approximately 7 rounds of 10 questions. If that’s the case, the game should last between 1 and 3 hours.
Categories: The categories will vary from one game to another. You may attend a pub quiz with a very specific theme, so you’ll know what the categories will be about. If there is no theme, or the theme is general knowledge, then the categories can range from celebrity gossip to American history. Make sure to brush up on your general knowledge before the event!
Answer format: The game will begin and you will answer questions. How you will deliver your answers will depend on the format of the event. Some are very simple, with pen and paper, while others are more advanced, with tablets or other technology.
Score: The score is calculated manually (in the case of pen and paper) or automatically after each round (or batch of rounds). You will have some time to submit your answers before the next round. Check your answers as you go in order to avoid missing the submission deadline. The time in between each round may also signify a small break that you can use to get a drink from the bar or grab a smoke outside.
Announcing the winner: Naturally, the team or individual with the highest final score will become the winner of the trivia game. The winner often gets a prize for their efforts and knowledge. Sometimes all participants are given small prizes for attending, like a coupon from a sponsor, but that’s not always the case.
End of the game: The game night will end after 2 hours or so. That is no reason to go home. You can continue the party at the pub, if it remains open after the game!
Trivia Night Rules
Now that you have a better understanding of the structure of a trivia night, you need to learn the rules.
Number of people per team
The number of people in one team is almost always limited. If it wasn’t, some teams would end up with 15 players, which would undoubtedly give them an unfair advantage. The limit is usually 6 players per team, but it may vary and depends on the rules of the trivia night you’re attending.
No technology is allowed
That includes phones, laptops, tablets, and so on. If you search the answer to a questions on the internet or message a knowledgeable friend, the game loses its appeal. The whole point is to test the knowledge you already have!
You may be given tablets for submitting your answers. Remember that accessing the internet via those tablets is still cheating and you should fully rely on your knowledge and the knowledge of your teammates.
Number of questions in a round
This number will vary from one event to another. This will also determine how long the game will last (and vice versa). You may be given bonus questions too.
Final question and tie-breaker
Some trivia games include a final question, which is usually quite specific and more difficult than other questions. If two teams tie for the position of the winner, a tie-breaking question will be posed. The tie-breaker is almost impossible to answer accurately, so the team that gets closer to the right answer wins.
Format of the game
In this context, the format refers to the way in which teams will be recording their answers. The most traditional and old-school way is the pen-and-paper way. If this format is used, you have to record your answers on a piece of paper and the score is calculated manually after each round. It’s more time-consuming than other formats.
The newer formats include using a smartphone or tablet to deliver the answers to the judge. It’s definitely more time-efficient, as you get to spend more time socializing with your teammates and enjoying the game night.
Changing your answers
Once you’ve turned in your answers, you are not allowed the change them. You will have limited time to go through your answers before the end of the round, so make sure to check as you go.
Every score is final
Arguing about the score can make the game unnecessarily long and boring. Instead of dwelling on a lost point or trying to prove that an opposing team should be off by one point, just enjoy the moment. Moreover, you can always score higher in the next round!
Perfect spelling is not required most of the time. The judges should be able to recognize your answer, but misspelling one thing or another will not make you lose a point.
To be sure of everything, check in with the host of the event. Some rules may vary from one trivia game to another, so you can never be too sure. The host will be able to tell you everything you need to know about the upcoming trivia game.
Here are some other rules you might encounter:
- Some trivia games will allow you to purchase up to a certain amount of Mulligans. A Mulligan can be used to make up for a missed question or turn a wrong answer into a right one. Usually, there is a limit of 10 Mulligans per table, but the specifics will depend on the event you’re attending.
- The judge is always right! You can be disqualified from the round/game if your behavior goes against the rules. The judge has the power to decide whether your answer was correct or incorrect.
- The most important rule is – have fun! It’s just a game and it’s not that serious, so forget about your worries and enjoy the game.
Trivia Night Formats
What do you imagine when you hear the phrase “trivia night?” Hopefully, not a dark, empty room and a dull list of questions. In fact, a trivia game night can take any form you can imagine! Think of your favorite movie, cuisine, book, activity. The game can bear the theme of your favorite anything in the world!
A fan favorite is holiday-themed trivia. This heavily depends on the time of year, as you can’t really have a Christmas-themed trivia night in summer. Luckily, there are popular holidays all year round! If you’re a Halloween person, then you should look forward to trivia in October, for example. A Halloween-themed trivia game night would normally include spooky decorations, seasonal beverages, and some dark questions.
Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween are just some of the more popular holiday themes. If you’re not a fan of everything traditional, then you will definitely enjoy some of the more quirky holidays, such as Kiss A Ginger Day on January 12th, and, well, National Trivia Day on January 4th!
Another popular theme is based on well-known hashtags. A great example would be #TacoTuesday or #ThrowbackThursday! We all know them from Instagram, so you can imagine what such themes would look like in real life. It’s important to note that themes don’t always affect the questions. If the theme is #ThrowbackThursday, it probably just means the game is taking place on a Thursday. There might be a throwback question or two, but that’s not always the case.
Finally, the theme we’ve all been waiting for is a movie theme. Whether you like Harry Potter, or you’re more of a Star Trek fan, you will definitely find your niche! TV show lovers shouldn’t worry either. Sooner or later you will come across a trivia night that will feature your favorite popular sitcom. If the theme is clearly stated in the description of the event, then you should brush up on your knowledge in that field.
Musical and visual rounds
If you think you’re going to spend the whole evening simply answering questions, you’re wrong. Well, you’re technically right, but it’s not that simple! Trivia nights often feature musical and visual rounds. That means that a whole round will be based on audio or video recordings. You may be asked to name a song, name an artist, name a movie, and so on. Picture rounds are not uncommon either, and they are possible without technological equipment.
Questions and rounds
Each round may have a different theme. For instance, the first round may consist of general knowledge questions, the next round can focus on history, the following round on geography, and so on.
Trivia Night Scoring
Usually, you are given a point (or a number of points) for each correct answer. Naturally, the team with the biggest number of points wins. Most of the time any question will have just one answer, so you either get a point or you don’t. If you submit more than one answer or an answer that is too vague, it won’t be marked as correct. If a question happens to have multiple answers, the judges have the power to decide which answer counts as correct.
The correct answers are announced at the end of the round, so that’s when you’ll know how much you scored in that round. Judges are people too, and they make mistakes sometimes! If you feel as though you’ve been scored incorrectly, let the judges know. They will go over the answers again and deliver the correct score.
It can happen that two or more teams are tied for first place. If that’s the case, the judges will pose an additional, tie-breaking question that will determine the fate of the winners. The tie-breaker is usually very difficult and almost impossible to answer accurately. Since one team could have an advantage over the other in one category, the tie-breaking question should leave both teams equal opportunities to win.
Enjoy Your Trivia Night!
You know all the basic rules now, but you still have a lot to learn. If you’re attending a trivia night soon, don’t forget to brush up on your general knowledge. Or to get all the details from the company running the trivia event. And, most importantly, have fun! That’s what trivia is all about.
If you’re still unsure about attending your first trivia night, here’s a great example of what it’s like to actually be in the room for bar trivia:
We encourage you to come back to us if you ever need more trivia advice. Leave us a comment if you have any questions regarding trivia and we’ll be sure to deliver the most detailed answer!