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Meet the Canton man who helped ignite national pub trivia explosion

 Meet the Canton man who helped ignite national pub trivia explosion

Canton resident Mark Adams is Vice President of Business Development at Sporcle, which is the world’s largest quiz community.

When he was a student at Salem High School in the 1990s, Mark Adams was so fascinated by games involving trivia, he briefly dreamed of opening a restaurant with a Family Feud theme.

(Name a Canton roadway you may want to avoid during rush hour …)

It’s probably a good thing Adams’ dream didn’t come to fruition because his current position as vice president of business development for the world’s largest quiz company — Sporcle — helps him bring enjoyment to millions of like-minded trivia buffs.

Adams launched a local business in 2009 that introduced pub trivia to southeast Michigan at Plymouth’s Liberty Street Brewing (now the Bearded Lamb).

Adams’ popular venture was ultimately bought out by Seattle-based Sporcle in 2013 and the company hosts bar trivia shows at more than 600 pubs nationwide on a weekly basis.

“I’ve always loved playing board games and trivia games in particular, but I always gravitated to being the one who reads the questions versus answering them,” Adams said. “The art of revealing the answer interested me.”

Idea generator

Adams admitted he’d probably excel more in Ken Jennings’ role as host on Jeopardy! (which, by the way, partners with Sporcle at its national Sporclecon events) than as a contestant.

Sporcle hosts more than 600 pub trivia nights on a weekly basis in the United States
Sporcle hosts more than 600 pub trivia nights on a weekly basis in the United States

“I’m pretty good at coming up with the answers,” he quipped, “but I usually need about 10 seconds, not the one second it takes the contestants on Jeopardy! I’d probably do better as a contestant on Supermarket Sweep than Jeopardy!”

Working remotely from his Canton home, from Sporcle’s downtown-Detroit office and his vehicle (he travels frequently in search of ideas and new trivia-night locales), Adams has helped the Sporcle brand diversify from world-wide trivia contests to other entities, including a Sporcle-owned bar in Ann Arbor (Haymaker Public House) and even a recently-developed Sporcle craft beer that was brewed at Detroit’s Eastern Market Brewing Company.

“One reason I love my job is because it gives people a mentally-stimulating diversion that brings them together with their friends and gives them a reason to get away from watching Netflix on weeknights,” he said. “We’ve recently introduced bingo trivia games to bars and a ‘Name That Tune’ type of game.

“I’ve also closed on a partnership with MLB.com (the official website of Major League Baseball), so there are Sporcle quizzes on MLB.com’s main page. My job entails looking out for new, fun things for Sporcle to get involved in — and to grow the business.”

Why so popular?

Pub trivia has exploded over the past several years for a number of reasons, Adams said.

“It’s no different than signing up to be in a bowling league or a softball league — only with pub trivia, you can get the satisfaction that comes with answering a question no one else in the bar knows, while drinking beer — and there’s no sweating involved,” he said.

“Playing trivia is a lot like going to a movie. You can forget about life for a couple of hours, have some fun with your friends and meet new friends.

“The beautiful thing about trivia is everybody knows something. You probably know 10,000 things that I don’t know, and vice versa. There’s no better feeling than being the only one in an establishment that knows the answer to a particular question. It gives you a chance to shine.”

Adams said Sporcle-run games make sure to include everyone.

“For instance, if we have a question on 1980s movies, we’ll follow that up with current top songs on Billboard question, then we’ll throw in one on history,” he said.

Another big Detroit event

Adams is proud to reveal that the third annual Sporclecon — which will feature over 50 trivia-related events for people of all skill levels — will be hosted by Detroit August 16-18.

The event will take place at The Fillmore, The Madison and Campus Martius. Not only will substantial cash prizes be available for participants, the event will raise funds for local charities.

Among the many highlights of this year’s Sporclecon include a live stage show and auditions by Jeopardy! as well as America’s largest pub quiz at the Fillmore. For more details, visit www.sporclecon.com.

“We held the first two Sporclecons in Washington, D.C.,” Adams said. “We expected hundreds of participants, but thousands showed up.

“I always knew Detroit would be chosen as a host, but I honestly didn’t think it would happen as quickly as it has. As a native Detroiter, I’m beyond excited because I want people to see what a cool city Detroit is.”

Which leads us to a potential Jeopardy! answer: “This man excels at one of the coolest jobs on the planet.”

The question: Who is Mark Adams.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

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Ed Wright

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