Fierce competition, important learning… and fun
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/04/2022 (398 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s trivia, except instead of being the first one to know the answer, players of Non-Trivial Trivia strive to be the quickest to find the answer through a Google search. The goal is to learn the histories and have fun doing it.
The online quiz was born in the summer of 2020. Michael Young, a Winnipeg programmer of industrial control systems, was taking Yale University’s online course African American Studies. He started the course a few months after George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer.
“I felt like I needed to do something,” Young said, adding a friend pointed him in the direction of the course.
Young figured learning was a good first step in being part of change. The more he learned, the more the world and his view of the world changed.
“I thought, ‘Hey, this might be fun to do with people.’”
By chance, Young took part in an online trivia game put on by a Twitter friend that summer. The topic was Harry Potter — something he wasn’t connected to or knew anything about. As the quizmaster asked questions related to the popular fantasy novel series, Young was fumbling with Google, trying to find the answers. It didn’t work to his advantage in the game, but it gave Young the idea to start his own non-trivial trivia.
He recruited friend Jenn Arndt to help run the quizzes. They put together the first online Non-Trivial Trivia session on Aug. 23, 2020. The topic was independence and civil war. A small handful of users gathered on a Zoom chat set up through a free account, which meant they only had 40 minutes to complete their 10-question session, which they answered through a site called Crowdpurr.
Researching each quiz usually takes about 10 hours. The topics are always about histories in marginalized communities, but Young — the host — said some topics are off-limits because they don’t want to trivialize people’s trauma or suffering.
“I’m grateful to Mike for starting this,” said Arndt, who is in charge of all the quiz components. “I absolutely learn something with every quiz.”
Young reached out to Nadia Thompson, the chair of Black History Manitoba, in February 2021 in hopes of making a partnership with the group. Learning about Black history needed to be done with the leadership of people in the Black community.
“I met Nadia, and she told me, ‘The first thing you need to do is stop doing the American stuff and focus on Black Canadian history,’” he said with a chuckle.
A partnership was formed almost immediately. This year, BHM gifted a paid Zoom account to the Non-Trivial Trivia team so they weren’t hampered by the 40-minute time limit.
“COVID may have separated most, but it also brought people together,” Thompson said. “Working with the Non-Trivial Trivia team has been a wonderful experience. They connected with Black History Manitoba and gave us a fun way to learn more about our history and how to share it with others in a new way.”
The schedule for Non-Trivial Trivia isn’t firm. They usually do a quiz every couple of weeks. Young and Arndt said all are welcome to join via (go to facebook.com/groups/nontrivialtrivia/), including people from outside Manitoba. The groups are still relatively small, but the competition can be fierce. Players have a chance of winning a prize — usually a book Young purchases from local Black-owned online book shop Tusome Books (tusomebooks.com).
“I found this place on Black Owned Manitoba’s Instagram page,” Young said. “The owner runs it out of her apartment, and the shop is lovingly curated.”
Young usually pays out of pocket for the prizes, though he’s set up a page at http://wfp.to/QDu for people to kick in a few bucks if they want.
“I learn more from doing this than I do from reading. As I’d hoped, it’s led to new things, including these precious relationships we’ve formed.”
Columnist, Manager of Reader Bridge project
Shelley is a born and raised Winnipegger. She is a proud member of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.