Katie Rose Quandt | November 21, 2017
One hundred mornings a year, more than 8,500 people around the world wake up to an email signed by Thorsten A. Integrity. It contains a link to six difficult trivia questions, as well the name of their head-to-head opponent for the day.
These are the players in LearnedLeague (pronounced learn-ed), a competitive, bracket-style, invitation-only trivia competition with a dedicated player base in all 50 states and 54 countries.
The questions — and the league — come from the mind of its creator and commissioner, Thorsten A. Integrity. But when he’s not devising cleverly worded questions, checking thousands of answers, and maintaining the league’s complex rankings and statistics, Thorsten is better known as Shayne Bushfield ’94.
Bushfield never set out to create the world’s most popular head-to-head trivia league. He started the league — on paper — with a small group of co-workers in the late 1990s. But thanks to his dedication and passion for trivia, a diversion among friends has ballooned into a multithousand member online league with complex statistics and a slate of well-known players such as 74-time Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, How I Met Your Mother producer Carter Bays and novelist Anna Quindlen.
The game’s success means that Bushfield, now (likely the world’s only) full-time online trivia commissioner, spends significant time writing questions. “It’s actually taken longer and longer,” he says. “When there’s more players doing it, there’s more pressure on me to not just make it a good question but to make it really good, and exactly right, and really, really tight.” He usually starts with an interesting tidbit from a reference book and builds the question out from there. He fact-checks everything and has his questions professionally copyedited.