For trivia buffs who didn't know that Adolf Hitler owned 9,000 acresin Colorado or that Utah, West Virginia and Hawaii claim the highestpercentage of overweight citizens in the nation, Bill King has a simpler question:
What's the Maryland state motto?
If you didn't answer, "Manly Deeds, Womanly Words," it wouldn't surprise King.
"Most Americans are geographically illiterate," saidKing, maitre d' at Berger's Colonial Inn in Pasadena and creator of the trivia game, "What'ya Know About America?"
"A lot of people think they know a lot about our country. But when asked a simple history or geography question, they're surprised to find how little they actually do," King said.
The 67-year-old Baltimore resident has spent the past two years researching all the information he used in the game, which resembles flash cards, with the questions on one side and the answers on the back.
Players have 350 cards to choose from: 300 deal with American trivia and 50 zero in on facts about each of theindividual states.
"It's not a board game like that other big trivia game everybody knows about," said King, who was hesitant to mention the most famous trivia game by name.
"After just one game, people seem to get tired of moving the little markers around the board anyway and just start pulling cards from the box to read.
"Plus, it's a matter of cost.
"This entrepreneur stuff is new to me. I'm still learning about all the printing, manufacturing and retailing aspects of owning my own business," he said.
King supervised productionof 10 prototypes and has given the go-ahead for a production run of 5,000 early next month.
The silver-haired Delaware native named his company America Games Inc. and plans to charge $10 to $12 per game.
He says his potential market is "every toy store, dime store and school system in the United States."
He already has six investors but is looking for more to help finance future production costs.
By year's end, he hopes to sell $100,000 worth of his product.
Not one to rest on his upcoming laurels, King is researching questions for separate games on Maryland, Delaware and Florida.
"One day when I have the money, I'll venture out and do all the states and maybe some foreign countries, too."
He has contacted a company in New York, which is translating and printing his cards in Japanese, so he can sell the game in Florida and Hawaii resort areas.
"Japanese tourists love to spend money on American souvenirs. I think they'll like mygame because it's educational, inexpensive and also lots of fun."
His ultimate goal is to have his trivia game sold in the newly opened Toys 'R' Us store in Tokyo.
"Now, that'll take some doing, won'tit?"
But for now, he will continue to work at the inn, patiently waiting to see if his game becomes as big a hit as Pictionary, Monopoly or even Trivial Pursuit.
Geographically illiterate or not, Kingfeels that Marylanders will get at least one question right:
Nameone of the five state capitals whose name begins with "A."