News & Politics

A Former FBI Employee Created a Trivia Game About the Bureau

How much do you know about the FBI?

Angela Bell, creator of How Much Do You Really Know? Photograph of Bell by Natalie Rozzell.

When Angela Bell imagined retiring from her job at the FBI, her plan was to write travel books for children. Then came January 6. On the news that day, she saw erroneous reports about some of the bureau’s activities. “I was like, wow, people really don’t know a lot about the FBI,” she says. So to educate the public, Bell created an FBI trivia game called How Much Do You Really Know?

Released in March, the game includes 500 cards covering topics such as famous cases and technical terminology. One question asks how many years J. Edgar Hoover served as FBI director (48), another the make and model of the DC snipers’ car (1990 Chevy Caprice). There’s pop culture, too, like the name of Jodie Foster’s character in The Silence of the Lambs (Clarice Starling). Clearly, the FBI approves: The game is for sale in the gift shop at the Hoover Building. (You can also buy it online.)

During her 33 years in the FBI, Bell worked as a press officer, fielding inquiries from reporters and publicizing the bureau’s work. She’s proudest of spearheading the PR effort for Operation Candyman, the FBI’s 2002 campaign to combat child exploitation online.

Some of the questions in the game specifically nod to Bell’s career, such as the one that asks which two major FBI investigations began on April 19. That would be the Waco siege and the Oklahoma City bombing; Bell was a press officer during both and found the work so traumatic that she began taking April 19 off every year. In creating the game, she also wanted to acknowledge the bureau’s darker history. “If the game is going to be educational,” she says, “it’s going to have the good and the bad.” To that end, she included questions about the FBI’s surveillance of the Black Panthers and its mishandled investigation into Larry Nassar, who was convicted of sexually abusing female gymnasts.

Since the game’s release, Bell—who lives near College Park—says it has become popular among retired FBI agents, who enjoy reliving their careers, and she’s heard that some current employees are using it to help orient new hires. But her biggest hope is that it might become a recruitment tool. “I want all kinds of youth who may have an interest in law enforcement to consider the FBI and all of the opportunities that are there,” she says. “I hope someone will get that ‘cryptanalyst’ card and say, ‘What is that? I like puzzles—let me look into what that is.’ ” But for people without designs on a gun and badge, there’s plenty of learning to be done, too. “Maybe you watch CSI or Law & Order,” she says. “But do you really know?

Sylvie McNamara
Staff Writer