Chris Who? Even if the name Chris Haney doesn't ring a bell, chances are that you have his most famous invention in your home: the game of Trivial Pursuit. Earlier this week, Haney succumbed to a long illness at age 59, having turned a friendly challenge with co-creator Scott Abbott into an industry with over $1 billion in sales. In the early 80s and beyond, Haney and Abbott had all of us scrambling to get those blue, brown, green, pink, yellow, and orange wedges so we could have a crack at that center hub space for victory!
The story of Trivial Pursuit, along with other Parker Brothers board games, is found in The Game Makers, a recent book that chronicles the braintrust behind Monopoly, Clue, Sorry!, Boggle, Risk, Pit, and beloved toys like Nerf balls and Ping-Pong. We learn the origins of many familiar games and see how a small family venture became the gold standard for wholesome, fun, competitive pastimes. The book also features long-forgotten board games such as The Mansion of Happiness, Keyword (a Scrabble play-alike), and a special edition of Monopoly made for Allied POWs during World War II, which included a compass hidden inside one of the token pieces, a working metal file, maps, and actual German, French, and Italian currency hidden among the Monopoly play bills!
We may have lost one of its creators, but Trivial Pursuit will continue to challenge and entertain for generations to come. Thanks to Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, we all win!