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The surprising benefits of pub trivia in Melbourne

Envision a Melbourne pub. Is it a grand nineteenth-century building, three stories tall on a corner of two busy roads? Is it down an alleyway covered in street-art, indicated by a bright neon sign with a door from a bygone era? Or is it out in the suburbs, where everybody knows your name?

Chances are that if you live in Melbourne, or have ever been to the city, you’ve visited one of these pubs that Melburnians love so much.

It is in one of those pubs you are likely to find a game of pub trivia in full swing, with teams battling it out in an intense, fun game of general knowledge, seeking more than just the free vouchers or winning prizes – the glory.

Pub trivia has gained immense popularity in Australia in recent years, with it being a staple of British culture since its establishment in the 1970s. And with several pubs hosting trivia in Melbourne every night, there is certainly no shortage of potential venues nearby.

Crafting the game of trivia

Mark Donehue, a Lecturer in Education at Deakin University, runs a trivia company called TRIVIA with an EDGE.

He finds coming up with new trivia questions difficult, especially as everyone has access to information at their fingertips. Donehue believes it is important to be creative with your questions and ensure they come from a broad range of topics.

‘The secret is to tailor trivia to the audience,’ Donehue says. While looking at the demographics of his audience, Donehue tries to find different questions beyond the standard history questions. ‘I always find the geography questions work well as people are more travelled these days.’

Although mobiles phones are his biggest problem, cheaters don’t go unpunished. Donehue opens every trivia night with a warning about the use of phones. ‘If I see people on their phones, I tackle the person face-to-face.’

The social aspect of trivia seems to be the driving factor behind many people’s participation: working together, coming up with a great team name, having a good time and enjoying the company of your friends. ‘[Trivia] is an amazing experience and builds networks and friendships.’

Is happiness at the bottom of a pub trivia sheet?

As well as being fun, trivia has a host of benefits from health and social perspectives.

Learning is heavily integrated with trivia, says Donehue. ‘Even writing questions I learn new things every day.’

Trivia is extremely beneficial because fact recollection engages with your frontal cortex  to ‘keep the mind sharp’, says Donehue. It is through fact recollection that we are able to strengthen that part of brain, not unlike exercising a muscle. Trivia can also be relaxing. ‘In this world of go-go-go, it is worth the time to enjoy ourselves and have a great time – trivia does this.’

Beyond the mental health and social benefits, there are other advantages to participating in trivia. TRIVIA with an EDGE, for instance, fundraises for schools and sporting clubs. Donehue’s trivia events have helped raise money to send students to Kokoda, train teachers in East Timor and help disadvantaged children.

As technology grows and begins to open up the avenues of knowledge for us, trivia is a wonderful, timeless way to put that knowledge to the test. For some it’s a chance to let out some competitiveness, for others it’s the ability to show off their general knowledge. Whatever the reason, the baseline is about having fun… and the glory of winning.

Want to put your general knowledge to the test? Take our classic pub trivia quiz below now.


Enjoy testing your brain? Check out our history quiz and geography quiz.

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Mark Donehue
Mark Donehue

Lecturer in Education, Deakin University

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