The Franchise: Finishing off the Trivia Franchise Round-Up is the most visible franchise in Seattle: Geeks Who Drink. GWD has five installations in Seattle (with a Woodinville outlier and a Tacoma quiz coming soon), brings consistently strong crowds and possesses the strongest marketing presence out of any of the trivia groups featured here.
John Dicker, Geeks Who Drink's Quizmaster-In-General (still not sure of the sociopolitical implications of that title), claims that having the duties of GWD's quizmasters stretch past writing and reading is integral to the franchise's success. While Brainstormer seemed content with having bars come to them, Geeks Who Drink hit the ground running by scouting bars in Seattle ideal for their multimedia experience. Now that the company has several healthy nights, Dicker says that plenty of bars contact them for services.
The Bar: The Waterwheel Lounge was host to seventeen teams, which is an amazing turnout for any trivia night, let alone the bar's first. While there was plenty of outside space in which patrons could hear the quiz via speakers, most teams opted to stuff themselves inside the packed, yet excited inside crowd.The raucous collection of Waterwheel's regulars and hardcore Joss Whedon fans was truly something to behold. And besmelt. However, Stu, the owner of the Waterwheel, seemed to be having a great time -- drinks were flowing, fried food was everywhere and spirits were high.
Stu tried trivia about a year ago, but it failed miserably. What's changed? Maybe it's Geeks Who Drink's solid exhibition, although there has been an unmistakable surge in pub trivia in general as of late. Stu postured that in times of recession, alot of people may be looking for reasons to go out that don't begin and end at tying one on; pub quizzes provide a perfect excuse, especially when they aren't dreadfully boring.
The Quiz: Eight rounds of eight questions make up every Geeks Who Drink quiz. The second round is always a music round, the seventh is usually an audio round and the eighth is always General Knowledge (of course, for the purpose of this quiz it was General Knowledge of Joss Whedon projects.)
Three bonus questions are thrown in between the rounds where individuals must rush the quizmaster with the correct answer on a piece of paper -- the first one to shove the half-legible drunk scrawl into the quizmaster's face gets a free beer! It's a great way to keep momentum going while rounds are scored while keeping people happy who aren't necessarily involved with a particularly successful team.
GWD has many question writers on their staff, but all questions are sent into a sort of "Geeks Who Drink hopper" where they are sorted out to increase round diversity, then shot out to sponsored bars across the country.
John Dicker realizes the drawbacks of not having a quiz host write the questions they're presenting -- so the focus becomes on making the best, most diverse range of questions possible per category. In true geek form, this process is being continually optimized by upgrades to GWD databases -- Dicker says that they're even working on a way to easily modify every sponsored bars' question packets to include favorite category types (like '90s music, sci-fi movies, zombies) and permanently exclude less desired topics ('80s music, contemporary television, personal hygiene).
The Masters of the Whedonverse is one of Geeks Who Drink's monthly special quizzes, which are the only GWD quizzes to involve buy-in fees and cash prizes. Past specialty quizzes have included a quiz on The Big Lebowski, The Simpsons, and LOST. Specialty ideas come from a mixture of both ideas that the company always wanted to compose a quiz for and feedback they receive from quiztaker surveys.
The Host: Gentleman Johnny won't be the regular host for The Waterwheel Lounge (that honor belongs to something named Science McGee), but turned in a fun performance while dressed in a Dr. Horrible smock and fast with a quip.
He describes himself as "100% geek, 0% drink," not that anyone should hold that against him (even though some black, viscous part of me does). He got into hosting through Geeks Who Drink midway into last year and now leads Mondays at The Blarney Stone.
The Verdict: Although this column is mostly devoted to Seattle's independent trivia nights, if it were to officially endorse any of the national franchises, this would be the one. Geeks Who Drink regularly puts together a solid quiz from a huge body of varied question writers (John Dicker claims each GWD quiz you'd take has probably had at least five different people involved). Its vigorous marketing campaign has built GWD so well in Seattle that it's only one Friday quiz away from having a sponsored quiz on every weekday. Its also completely free every night besides specialty quizzes.
More importantly, however, it's a franchise totally aware of its inherent flaws that works actively to compensate for them. While I'm still skeptical of recommending any Geeks Who Drink quiz over a charming inhouse operation like the one at The Wild Rose, I have to say the Whedonverse quiz was one of the most fun times I've had while surrounded by completely forgettable details of a mildly successful television producer's career. That has to be worth something.