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Travels With Woot: TCONA 2013

by Scott Lydon

It was on the last day, when I was having brunch with a game show producer and hearing some cool behind-the-scenes stories, when I finally accepted that TCONA really is somethin' extra special.


I hit up the 2013 Trivia Championships Of North America during a thankfully air-conditioned Las Vegas summer last year, and you know what? I had a blast. This year I’ll be there again, meeting Woot’s own Ken Jennings in person for the very first time! (I was out sick the day he came by to open his Bag Of Crap, you see.) If you’ve ever considered yourself a trivia buff, you owe it to yourself to spend a weekend testing just how much you actually know. After the jump you can check out my recap of TCONA 2013.

It’s a weird thing to walk into a trivia convention for the very first time. On the one hand, you’re around some of the smartest people you’re gonna meet. Those people are there to audition for real TV game shows like The Chase and The Million Second Quiz, dominate the Open Quiz Bowl Championships, medal in LearnedLeague competition and basically gloat over everybody not as cool as they are. Hey, it happens.

But on the other hand, you’ve also got some casual players. These types show up to play games like 5x5 and jump in with the Game Show Play-Along game show simulator. And then there’s the amazing Knodgeball, invented by Jeopardy! champion Bob Harris. A mix of trivia and dodge ball, it’s a fast-paced arena of… well, this:


As you can see in the video, Knodgeball offers two different paths to victory. Don’t know a question? Make a shot instead! I also got to enjoy a late-night taping of The Experts which was both fascinating and exhausting. The taping ran until about 3 in the morning, so obviously not everyone stayed. There are other things to do in late night Las Vegas, after all.


But the best part of TCONA wasn’t just the games and events. It was the people I met. In the all-players-present First Quiz, I got to sit at a table with former Jeopardy! Champions and feel the rush when I knew something they didn’t! (For the record, this happened exactly once, but let me have my moment, okay?) I got to meet people from all over the world and learn different factoids from other nations! And I got to spend a morning talking to the way-cool Bob Boden about what it was like to be a game show/trivia legend.

If you like the idea of a laid-back Las Vegas Trivia Vacation, or if you’re sure you can crush all comers with your mad smarts, or if you just want to network with the people who cast game shows, or if you just like all the things on this list, then TCONA’s worth the cost. You can find details at the TCONA website and if you go, look for me and Ken Jennings! We’ll probably be instant besties and hang out together all weekend! I hope so, anyway. I didn’t get a hotel room and I'm gonna need to share with him.