In the fragmented industry that is pub trivia, Geeks Who Drink is the closest thing we have to an actual national powerhouse brand. With dozens of different venues across more than 40 states, GWD has a nationwide presence formidable enough to support their own annual branded pay to play tournament, Geek Bowl. Now in its 11th year, Geek Bowl has grown to include more than 200 teams from across the US including, for the first time, your favorite Hudson Valley troupe of trivia all stars.
As might be expected, an operation as large as GWD comes with all the trappings of a legitimate, organized, for-profit company running professional entertainment events. These include meticulously worded questions of carefully varied degrees of difficulty, audio clips not pulled from old YouTube videos, visual rounds not hastily created in Microsoft Word, and company branded answer books that are vaguely reminiscent of what they used to hand you during college final exams. It’s basically what happens when people are paid actual, livable salaries to put together a trivia game.
The structure is pretty straightforward: 8 rounds of 8 questions each, including one visual round and usually 2 audio rounds. The second and eighth rounds are worth 16 points each, and you have the option to double up on any round of your choice (effectively making your score for that round count twice). Pro Tip: probably a good idea to double either of the rounds worth 16 points- even if you only get half the questions right in these rounds you’re still likely to come out ahead of teams that double one of the 8 point rounds #lessonslearnedthehardway.
GWD trivia nights are pretty smoothly run operations, in no small part because as a company they’ve got this down to a science: hosts are given detailed instructions on how to run things, with everything from the timing and pace of reading questions to how to read score updates painstakingly spelled out for them. As a result, they’re kind of the equivalent of a trivia fast food chain- no matter which particular location you’re at, you have a pretty good idea what you’ll be getting for your money.
Questions: 9/10– This isn’t amateur hour and the questions reflect that- there are teams of people paid to come up with questions that are well worded, touch every genre and topic imaginable, and that range from ridiculously easy to mind numbingly difficult. These guys know how to put together a trivia game.
Structure: 7/10– I’m a fan of being able to double a round at the team’s discretion, but I’m not a fan of that double being worth more in some rounds than others. There’s something inherently unfair about that, especially for the teams that are new to this format.
Hosts: 5/10– GWD hosts generally seem to be selected more for their chops as entertainers than as trivia hosts. One of the awesome things about going to trivia nights with hosts who write their own questions is that you’re dealing with someone who genuinely loves trivia and has some knowledge of the subjects they’re asking questions about, which isn’t always the case here. Mispronunciations, at times problematic enough to affect answers, are common, and there’s no recourse if you think a given answer is incorrect.
Venues: Scotchtown Craft (Weds) & Clemson Brothers Brewery (Thurs)