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SOUTHLAND BUSINESS

Even More Trivia

November 09, 1986|DENISE GELLENE

Beverly Hills real estate executive Brian Hersch admired the success of the Trivial Pursuit board game so much that he went out and devised his own trivia game. After spending two years and $200,000 on the project, Hersch's game--Out of Context--is arriving on shelves of book shops and toy stores.

So far, Hersch has received orders for 300,000 games, and he expects to sell as many as 1 million by the end of the Christmas season. That's not a whole lot, compared to the 35 million Trivial Pursuit games sold in the United States in 1984, but Hersch is pleased.

"I've recovered my investment several times over," he says.

The game is manufactured and marketed by Western Publishing Co., which is giving Hersch a 15% royalty on sales. The game retails at prices between $27.95 and $42.95, Hersch said.

Hersch, who took a hiatus from the family real estate business, Hersch & Co., to develop the game, said he believes the success of Trivial Pursuit can be duplicated. A marketing study he commissioned concluded that mortgage payments and other family expenses meant that young couples had small entertainment budgets. These "house-locked" couples would be willing to buy a game that was challenging and fun, the study said.

Hersch's game uses quotes from famous people in much the same way other trivia games use facts. Out of Context players are asked to chose the actual quotes by movie stars, politicians and other public figures from a selection of quotes that includes bluff quotes.

Hersch said he tested the game on friends and, later, recruited groups off the street to play the game. The process helped him detect the bugs in it, he said. He rewrote the directions several times to make them easier to understand. He also speeded the game up so that it ends in 30 minutes.

Hersch, 35, now says he liked inventing the game so much that he plans to devote himself to the development of new games full time. He and a staff of six associates at Hersch & Co. also plan to offer consulting services to others who are developing their own games, Hersch said.

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