Monthly Archives: January 2015

52 Games: The Cube

TITLE: The Cube

DEBUT:  August 22, 2009

HOST(S): Phillip Schofield

ONE SENTENCE DESCRIPTION: Single player basketball with slow motion cameras in a plexiglass box.

RULES: 1 player has the chance to win £250,000 by completing seven “games” played inside a giant box. These games are simple ideas (but X in Y, roll X to Y, count the X in Y seconds, push the button) and are simple games of skill and memory, But the games played inside the box along with the lights and the audience, build a kind of pressure that sometimes freaks contestants out.

Each player gets 9 lives, if they fail a game, they lose a “life” (think of them like chances), and if they lose all of their lives, they leave with nothing. But much like every modern game post-millionaire, they have a money ladder.

Winning 1 game = £1,000

Winning 2 games = £2,000

Winning 3 games = £10,000

Winning 4 games = £20,000

Winning 5 games = £50,000

Winning 6 games = £100,000

Winning All 7 games = £250,000

The 7th game is one of the previous 6 games played on a “much more difficult setting”, for example, a game involving bouncing a ball into a container, will now have the container be shrunk so it’s much more smaller to get inside.

Also like most modern game shows, they have life-lines, two in fact. One is a “simplify” which makes a game played on an easier setting (for example, a game where you’ll need to stack something in 20 seconds, will now be in 25 seconds) and another is a “trial run” which lets you play a game once, before you decide to risk your money.

What makes the game interesting, is the visual design of the show. “The Cube” has a voice of a narrator, who explains the games, but also a host who is rooting for the contestants at every step. They have slow motion cameras, cameras that shoot in every angle, and even bullet-time that makes it look like you are in The Matrix, but with a game involving catching a ball fired at you by a launcher.

WHAT WORKS:

The presentation is what sells the show. It’s something that is visually something that hasn’t been done before on a game show. It’s constant soundtrack makes contestants feel like action heroes, and the slow motion cameras make the contestants not look silly, but rather heroic. It’s a Man vs Machine feel of a show, that has no play ability, but when you watch it, you’re on the edge of your seat, by the way the show is edited. A simple “move this bar from one section to the other without touching the wires” game takes roughly 2 minutes, but every step is played as if something significant is about to happen. You do see emotion go through the game, especially when players are debating losing a life changing amount on something that could be in their skillset, like counting boxes on the floor of the cube. The game is played with physical items and sometimes the floor itself, making the possibilities endless, as long as they think inside the box.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK:

The biggest drawback for the show is the amount of episodes of a series is limited, and lately modern series have become more drawn to celebrity editions. Celebrity Editions are a curse of the game show industry. While they make for great fun special events, a high enough frequency makes the show just celebrity focused, which kills the show off. A game show should have common people be the stars, not already-stars be stars some more, which is almost ironic when you consider the first person to actually beat “The Cube” was Mo Farrah, Olympic gold medalist.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This is a breathtaking show, that is not based on knowledge, but rather skill. Unlike “Minute to Win It”, the game isn’t played with time, the players have all the time in the world (unless the rules of a game are played with a time limit).

It’s a show that should be, of all the UK games still on-air, imported over to America. It’s perfect blend of editing, cinematography and visual effects almost reminds me of The CW. This is a show that The CW would love to have. It’s very flashy, it’s very silly when it needs to be, but overall a game that when it’s on, all you have to do is stare at it and go IT’S THE CUBE! It’s my favorite game show over in the UK, and believe as long as technology and the special effects change, the show can change along with it. Whatever is the most visually pleasing, heart pounding, tense show, where you root for the contestants, and the production team can make you feel that way, even if there is still 30 minutes left into the show.

52 Games: Let’s Ask America

TITLE:  Let’s Ask America

DEBUT: September 17, 2012

HOST(S): Kevin Pereira, Bill Bellamy

ONE SENTENCE DESCRIPTION: People on Skype have to act fake-excited while picking the most popular answer in a survey.

RULES: There are four players “live” via Skype, they have just their webcams, some cards, a marker, and a background that producers probably told them what would work because “it looks nice” (and avoids copyrights).

In Round 1, there are 4 players, and they have to figure out the most popular answer to a survey with two possible answers (Forgive Them or Dump Them, what would currently dating women do if their boyfriend forgot their birthday). Whoever had the lowest score is eliminated by the game. In the event of a tie, there is a “Dash for Cash” in which players have to get off their chair and grab something (Much like a “Quickie Deal”) and whoever is the slowest is eliminated from the game.

In Round 2, the three remaining players have to pick from questions with 3 possible answers, for more money, once again, the lowest score is eliminated, or a dash for cash is made to settle a tie.

In Round 3, the two remaining players have to pick from 4 possible answers, and whoever has the highest score wins their money and goes onto the final question.

In the final question, they can wager as much as they want on it, much like a Final Jeopardy. But if they go “ALL IN”, they are playing for 5 times their amount. On 1 question with 4 possible answers. A correct answer wins the money, Incorrect loses the money, and if it’s all-in, that includes losing everything.

WHAT WORKS:

Game Shows are shows that are broadcast nationwide, but most game shows film here in Los Angeles. To be a contestant, you have to sign up, follow casting directors, be a character of yourself, and go through hurdles before you even make it to the studio. This show avoids Los Angeles, if you want to be a contestant, you just need a form, and skype, and the directors will COME to you. They will send over the equipment needed for the game, so all you will need is to be at home when the show is taping.

And the show is taping, with you in the comfort of your home, Rather it’s Wyoming, Indiana, Kentucky, or any small town in america, you can be on this show and play for $50,000. Kevin Pereira was a good fit for this show, because of his work on AOTS, and in a few episodes they actually gave him a co-host to bounce ideas with, as she was sitting in a “Survey” corner and was the one who revealed the results.  It’s very lighthearted and is one of the few game shows that debut in the 2010s. (There aren’t that much, and we are midway through this decade!) and still remain on the air.

The questions are fun to play with, but i sometimes question the percentages. How many people did they survey in each question, was it 100 or was it more or less than that? It’s not Power of 10 levels of surveying, because of budget, I assume, but If they asked only 17 people, those percentages are fluctuated.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK:

The show has changed so many times throughout the seasons. The audience got a little more “rowdy” in later seasons, the rules changed from Season 1 to Season 2 (An “All-In” in Season 1, gave you a $1,000 safety net should you fail, but got rid of it for Season 2) and even Season 2 to Season 3 (Kevin became Bill Bellamy, and the top prize went from $50,000 to $35,000)

The original gameplay made round 3 questions very top heavy, so if by some reason, you were always scathing by in Rounds 1 and 2, you can answer just 1 question right in Round 3 and secure the game because your opponent didn’t get it right.

The Dash For Cash is also something that I feel is pretty corny when it comes to a tie. It’s a novel idea to get people to find something in their home or do something silly on camera, But “Grab a toilet plunger, a book, and recreate the statue of liberty” is hardly gripping television for the 10-15 seconds it takes to show the people running (sometimes with the headphones still on their head) as they try and do it.)

I also feel that Bill Bellamy, as funny as the person is, wasn’t as good of a host as Kevin. Bill Bellamy would be a much better fit on a possible dating show, but a show that’s essentially nerdy people answering questions about “Which celebrity did people find more attractive”, is not really interesting or fun. The $35,000 cash prize is also somewhat disturbing to me, because to me, and this might sound weird. I thought $50,000 was the PERFECT cash prize for a show called “Let’s Ask America”, because if anybody asks why, It was $1,000 for each state (50 states), $35,000 seems pretty low, and even lower if you remember that the maximum players have before entering the final question (and “won”) is $7,000. It’s still good money, but it just doesn’t have that kind of decision as $10,000 could have. While $3,000 makes a difference on a production standpoint, in a psychological level for a contestant, it doesn’t do much. You’ll just see more than likely a $2,000 or $3,000 gamble, for a possible $4,000 to $10,000 payout (to remind you, on a perfect day)

FINAL THOUGHTS:

There are so many reasons to enjoy Let’s Ask America, but season by season the show is slipping. I would have enjoyed the original (what I assume were pilots) of the show if that’s the way they kept it. Kevin, 4 contestants, and a co-host to bounce ideas with, along with contestants who were happy to be on television (but weren’t just cast as “a balloon artist, so please flood your bedroom with balloon animals”) and the scoring still being worth $5,000 on the final question (as top-heavy as it was), with the final round still being the All-In for $50,000 or a safety net of $1,000 even if you fail.

It comes across as a very cheap production when $1,000 isn’t given to a winner. That if they fail, much like everybody else, they just win the shirt, and coffee mug and tumbler and can talk about the 4-6 minutes of television time they were on. If they had a bigger budget, I am sure they would do fantastic items, but the way the show looks now, Season 7 will be hosted by Dan Cortese and the top prize will be $5,000. (and players will just “shout” out the answers, and consolation prizes will be in the form of email coupons for 10% off car washes). It can be a much better show, because the first season was phenomenal, but lately, it’s just “a show that’s on to fill 30 minutes”. It’s not going to beat Wheel or Jeopardy any time soon, but if it wants to do well, it better try it’s hardest to be THE SOCIAL MEDIA GAME SHOW. Even if it means referring to contestants by their twitter handles and calling it #DashForCash and showing every episode on YouTube, do something! It’s squandering a ton of potential for success here.

52 Games: Mastermind/2 Minute Drill

TITLE: Mastermind (UK), 2 Minute Drill (US)

DEBUT: September 11, 1972  , September 11, 2000

HOST(S): Magnus Magnusson, Peter Snow, Clive Anderson, John Humphrys; Kenny Mayne

ONE SENTENCE DESCRIPTION: Sitting in a chair, sweating nervously as you answer questions about football for two minutes.

RULES: Depending on which format you want to use, there are different ways to deal with it. The original format, the one from the UK involves two rounds, an introduction round and a general round. In the introduction round, a contestant would introduce themselves, and their area of expertise while sitting in a boring office chair. The player will then be asked questions non-stop about their area of expertise. (For example, someone who’s expertise was “The Simpsons” might be asked about a guest star who appeared on a specific episode). After the two-minutes are up. A new player is introduced and the process is repeated again. Until all players were introduced. In the general round, players will then go back into the chair and have to answer general knowledge questions for two and a half minutes, whoever has the highest score at the end of this round, “wins” the game, and advances to the final, where they can win a nice glass trophy.

In “2 Minute Drill”, three players are introduced,  and in round 1 would have to pick a category and it would be read by a celebrity or athlete regarding the subject. There were 4/5 questions in each category, and players only had 2 minutes to answer all 16 or 20 questions, in the hopes of getting a bonus point if they answer all the questions correctly in the round. The lowest score is eliminated,

In the next round, the two players do not get subjects, and will be asked rapid-fire questions from all 5 people on the panel for the full 2 minutes. Whoever has the highest score in this round wins $5,000 and the chance to double it on one final question, in their area of expertise. No glass trophy, but they do get a cash prize.

WHAT WORKS:

It’s a simple concept, answer questions for two minutes. There is tension in the game, but in the most minimum way. They are sitting in a chair staring at the host (or panel) as if they are being interrogated, but instead of a deposition, it’s questions about stuff they enjoy. There is rarely play along in rapid-fire questions though, because if a player answers it before you, it throws away your attempt to answer. All you can do is “think” the answer. It’s a competition after all. It’s a no-frills trivia show.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK:

To repeat, rapid fire does not give you play along. What also doesn’t work is if someone’s area of expertise is in something you’ll know nothing about. I really do not know much about South American Politics, so this 2 minutes will be boring to me to watch. It’s also a show that you might find boring because of the tone of the show and the sometimes monotone voice of the hosts. Even if you enjoy trivia and sports trivia.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

It’s not a bad show, but the show didn’t last long in the US, only 3 seasons. The reason Mastermind lasts long in the UK is because of the way they handle the format, with nothing really changing, aside from hosts and subjects, for the years. It’s not so much a “game show” as it is a “trivia competition”. The most questions answered in 2 minutes wins, and the prize isn’t that significant, which makes it worth more, like a stanley cup or the heisman trophy. The trophy is what’s the prize.

The 2014 Future Endeavors Memorial

Gone, and possibly forgotten.

52 Games: Family Feud

TITLE: Family Feud

DEBUT: July 12, 1976

HOST(S):  Richard Dawson, Ray Combs, Louie Anderson, Richard Karn, John O’Hurley, Steve Harvey

ONE SENTENCE DESCRIPTION: Family Members say dumb things from a list to win money.

RULES:  Two teams (Families) of 4/5 compete against each other to win a cash prize of $5,000 (or $10,000 or $20,000 or any variation if there is some sort of Bullseye Round. The goal is to reach a “target” amount of points, rather it’s 200 points, 300 points, or 400 points if they were sadistic, but for most cases, it was 300 points.

The way to earn points is to match answers from a survey posed to 100 people (or men or women or married people or mothers) in the hopes that it’s up there. It starts with a “toss-up”, with whoever has the highest result (more people of “the survey”) gets the option to play or pass. When they play, the rest of the family members must come up with answers they feel were also said in the survey. If it’s up there, it’ll flash on the screen and the points will be in a pot. If it’s not, they’ll earn a strike, three strikes and the play goes over to the other team, who must provide only one of the unclaimed answers to “steal” the points from the pot.

Questions/Surveys can range from “Name a vegetable children don’t like” to “Name something you’d find on a bed” to “Name something that women lose”. Whoever reaches the 300 Point Target (after doubling or tripling the points in the rounds) move onto “Fast Money”, which is a rapid-fire game in which 2 of the team members must provide the most popular answer to 5 survey results in the hopes of reaching a 200 point target to win the $5,000 (or as is the case now, $20,000), If they fail, they earn $5 per point in this round, and they come back the next day. As of the new version, if a family wins 5 games, they also earn a car.

WHAT WORKS:

What works about this show, is the playability. You can come up with ideas as the contestants are coming up with them as well. Things like “A place where you’ll see a bikini” or “Something you say to your dog, that you also say to your husband”. The game is straight-forward as possible, fill up a survey list with all the results possible. And the game has comedic moments whenever a “good answer” is ever said. With Steve Harvey as the current host, the show also adds more to the “comedy” element, with Steve’s baffled face.

It’s a show that anybody can really play, from kids to grown-ups, and it’s a show that doesn’t really require that much “tension” that is seen in most game shows to fuel the show, a result, good or bad, just keeps the show going, even after the 3rd strike in certain rounds.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK:

The host is what sells the show, while Dawson made the show work (because of his impressive ways with the Super Match in “Match Game”), other hosts see it as just a comedy game, and it’s the best ways to have set-ups to a punchline. None of the hosts were bad, but some of them (such as John O’Hurley) felt like they were coasting through the show instead of letting their personality take the show, which was the case of Steve Harvey.

Some modern survey results, have decided to take the page of “Match Game”, and have surveys that could be used for double entendres, just for Steve Harvey to gasp whenever somebody says “Penis”, “Sex” or “Boobs”. Yes, these surveys have been around even since the ’70s, but it’s become pretty common. It’s not a bad thing for now, but eventually, much like Match Game, you’ll run out of ways to say “Butt”.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I really do enjoy Family Feud, I think it is a timeless game show that has shown why it can last decades with different hosts. It’s a game that all you’ll need is a survey of 100 people, and you can play this game anywhere. And in terms of “home games”, Family Feud is one of the only few game shows that has actually been able to have a successful port that’s authentic to the actual game show itself that lasted through many console generations (Family Feud is for NES, SNES/Genesis, Playstation One, Playstation Two, and PS3) and PC ports.

One thing that I would say is a mix of “work and doesn’t work” was that of The Bullseye Round. In some episodes, before the “toss-up” we would play a game to determine the cash prize each family would play for. The first survey was worth 1K, the second was 2K, then 3K, 4K and finally 5K. I thought this was a novel idea to add more surveys to the game, but felt that it ruined a good survey by only showing one answer, or by “striking” a possible #2 or #3 answer. I would have liked it better if it was more like toss-ups, where the highest survey result earned the bullseye buck bonus. So each family can provide answers.

And finally, the show was successful all around the world, especially in the UK as “Family Fortunes”, with a viral video in which a man answered “Turkey” in the “Fast Money” bonus game. I think the show has holding power wherever it goes and is a certified game show hit. Congrats to Family Feud!

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