Monday, February 18, 2013

Sometimes the Final Answer matters.

In the world of Jeopardy! One junior player recently made news with his bold final answer. He didn't know the answer to the question, but he knew enough to take a big risk and his gamble paid off.

Jeopardy! typically gives you a set point value for answers you get correct and deducts as much for incorrect answers. The wager--or final--question allows a contestant to essentially set the point value for the final question. If they have 1000 points (dollars in Jeopardy!) and wager nothing, they can neither lose nor gain points. If they wager everything, they may have a big gain or they may lose everything.

In Leonard Cooper's case, he wagered nothing--guessing that he wouldn't know the answer, but neither would his competitors. He ended up being the Jeopardy! Champion and his triumphant, confident answer made headlines: "WHO is some guy in Normandy....But I just won $75,000!"

In Gameshow Pro 5, the Final Answer game has Jeopardy!-style game play, so a final answer can make or break a game. There are both benefits to including a final question and reasons not to do so.

To include a Final Question:
  • Adds an element of excitement to the final round 
  • Is a great way to "cap off" a game
  • Keeps everyone in the game; even if the scores are very uneven, the final question can be an equalizer
  • Adds variety to the game play apart from multiple choice questions
  • Adds an element of chance and risk
Not to include a Final Question:
  • Consistent hard work or right answers during the game can be blown by risk aversion
  • The player with the most knowledge doesn't always win
  • Adds an element of chance and risk that aren't always appealing

Thursday, February 14, 2013

When is a little competition TOO much competition?

When your audience is really getting into your game show, that's generally a good thing. The teams are cohesive and working together, the adrenaline is flowing, emotion is high...but sometimes things get a bit, well, out of control.

We were recently hosting a game show event and coaching the game show host on how to get the teams pumped up. There are several ways to do this:

1. Get teams cheering (call out teams/team names and ask them if they're ready to play/if they're going to win)

2. Recap scores

3. Reveal prizes

4. Raise the stakes

But when we started playing the game show, we found that our worries about getting the audience into the game were completely unfounded. The audience was coming off 7 hours of training and content, and they were *ready* to compete and ready to play. (It didn't hurt that they were sales people and competitive by nature.) It was a little overwhelming. Our concern about getting them cheering quickly turned into concern for our neighboring rooms.

So when things get a little too rowdy, what can you do? Here are some tips:

1. Slow down the game play. Take a moment to get to know the team captains.

2. Ask more involved questions. Go outside multiple-choice/rapid-fire questions and get into a meatier open-ended question scenario.

3. Keep prizes small. We find that keeping prizes small doesn't usually mitigate the enthusiasm, but it does keep the competition from getting nasty.

4. Turn down the volume. Sometimes just asking for half-volume can keep the energy up while keeping the disruption down.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to transition a classroom game into a larger event.

Many trainers use Gameshow Pro in their classrooms; in small-to-medium sized groups in a somewhat-intimate atmosphere. The energy it brings to the smaller training class is undeniable; it increases engagement, participation and content retention.

But can the small classroom solution translate into something like, say, a larger event? Sure a game show is fun in training a small group of sales reps, but what about in a room of 500? Will it even work? How does one even begin transitioning from a classroom game into a larger event game?

The answers are: Yes, game shows translate into large events. Yes, they invigorate a large group in the same way they add energy and interaction in a small group. Yes, it has worked time and time again.

And here are a few strategies and considerations for transitioning a classroom game into a game within a larger event:

Team selection: Whereas everyone in a small class may get to directly participate on a team, that's not always possible in a larger group. There are three options for team engagement in a big-group game show:
  1. Use audience-response keypads: If enough are available, giving everyone in the audience an audience response keypad is the most straightforward way of engaging everyone. Audience members can individually play along, but Gameshow Pro also allows you to group individuals on teams--creating a compelling, competitive dynamic. No "stage teams" are needed in this scenario.
  2. Use a mix of keypads and on-stage players: You may also want to have representative team members playing on stage to "ham it up" or to take the audience response into consideration for their answers.
  3. Use representative players on stage: Even if you have no keypads, you can engage and entertain everyone by selecting members of the audience to come play on a smaller team onstage. The rest of the audience members are still "part of" the team--they're responsible for cheering the team on and may reap some rewards if their team wins--but they don't have to directly interact with the game on stage. 
Host selection: While a small classroom game can be a scalable event--from a quiet Tic-Tac-Toe game to a rousing Classroom Feud--with a large event, bigger and broader is better. You'll want to make sure that your host is able to play to the crowd as well as team members, educate when needed, and to keep things moving. This doesn't need to be a professional emcee, but it should be someone who enjoys the spotlight and is very comfortable on stage--where anything can happen.

Simplify the rules: In a classroom you may have a chance to answer clarifying questions about the game rules as you go along. In a larger group this may not be possible, or it may be harder to control chaos from unclear rules as you go along. Make sure your game show rules are simple, clear and that everyone knows them. Playing a sample game question to get audience members familiar with the format, keypads and game logistics is a great idea.

Have someone else run the game: It's easy to click-through a game show (especially using Game Show Pro) and host at the same time in a smaller classroom. In a larger event setting, you'll want your computer hooked in to the A/V equipment and that may preclude you from controlling the game. Even if you do have access to the game controls, hosting and running through the game on stage in a large setting takes a lot more energy and focus than you'll want to spend. Get a colleague or technician to run the game software for you if you can.

Format selection: You may want to switch out a traditionally formatted game for alternate game play when bringing it on the big stage. For instance, we often make Tic-Tac-Toe into a Hollywood-Squares-Type game, utilizing different experts and presenters throughout the game.

When in doubt? Call in the experts. We'd be happy to help you transition your classroom game into a larger event.

Monday, March 12, 2012

3 Game Show Host Goof-Ups

Being a game show host can be an incredibly fun way to interact with your trainees, or get your name out within a company (volunteering to host a large-scale game at an event, for instance). However, hosting isn't always an easy feat. Here are a few ways in which we see game show hosts go wrong:

1. Not Knowing the Rules: This seems like a basic thing, but a host being unclear on the finer points of the game show rules can lead to a chaotic or less-than-ideal experience for the game show participants. This is especially true as you customize your game show and add multiple rounds with multipliers (i.e. points are doubled!) or rule variations.

2. Getting Down on Wrong Answers: Nothing is more discouraging than being in a learning game situation and being mocked or ridiculed (no matter how gently) for putting yourself out there and answering a question. Most trainers have a good sense of appropriate feedback, but sometimes an outside-the-training-department host won't have a similar taste for protocol.

3. Not Encouraging Teams: If a game is set up cleverly, there's always a chance for a team that is behind to catch up--be it in a wager round, bonus points, etc. However, it can be easy for a team to forget this when they see such a glaring disparity in scores. It's the host's job to remind the teams of the stakes and preview rounds where they may have a good chance to catch up.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Together or Apart: A lesson in team placement.

Dan (the owner and founder of LearningWare) and I have been in disagreement on one game show issue for a very long time. Despite our respective expertise, we've never seen quite eye to eye on this issue.

Do you seat teams together in a competitive game show environment, or do you spread a team throughout the room?

Dan would always advocate for the latter. From dealing with hyper-competitive sales reps, he had seen many, many instances where teams had cheated when sitting together. (For instance, if they all had keypads, one person--who knew that particular question--would hold up a letter and everyone would press that letter on their keypad.) When teams were sitting scattered throughout the room, there was no advantage for them to do this since the other team would also benefit from their assistance.

I always loved the energy that a team would generate sitting in the same space. I loved watching the cheers as the point tallies would rise in an AllPlay game. I loved watching the discussion and collaboration. Could they cheat? Maybe--but they didn't always. And the point of the game was to review information and add energy to a training session--even if they were told the answers, everyone still was reviewing the information one more time. Cheating can backfire as well--what if that one person everyone is trusting to give the answer has it wrong? The team gets a zero-score instead of at least *something*.

Who is right? Well, both of us. Ultimately both ways work. If a trainer is looking to really test everyone's individual knowledge--having a team seated apart is a better gauge of this metric. If a trainer is looking to review information and increase the energy in the room exponentially--then having the teams sitting together makes for a great game show.

And I'm happy to admit that after recently running several game shows at large events--both ways--Dan is starting to come around to my way of thinking.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Speeding Up Internal Game Show Adoption

Quite frequently we'll get questions from current and prospective game show users. Recently, this question was emailed to us. We think it might help a lot of game show users trying to push for more adoption within their organization, so take a look at our answer.
Q. I love using game shows, but I can’t seem to get traction in my organization. I know my colleagues would love them if they tried them, but no one has time to create games. . . How do I get everyone on board?

A. It’s hard, sometimes, being a game show evangelist. I know they can be amazingly transformative and YOU know that…but how do you spread the word?

Well, like with anything, the key is to make it as easy and painless as possible. There are some ideas:
  • Organize a game show training day: Sometimes people will avoid a new technology just because they’re uncertain of how to use it and don’t want to take the time to learn. People are funny this way; we’ll stick with something less effective and more familiar if we can. Organize a game show training day where you can get up to speed and they can play around with creating their own games. 

  • Start sneaking games into internal meetings: Game shows become viral very quickly. Once people see them being played, they tend to want to use them for their own events, sessions, etc. Giving peers the experience of playing the game will make it easy for them to see how their own excitement and engagement can translate into their classroom. 

  • Utilize a Player version of Gameshow Pro: Gameshow Pro has a creator license version and a player license version. The creator lets you do everything—creating a game, etc. The player does not let you edit games, but it lets you play games that others have created and change a few features (and is a less expensive license). If peers don’t have to take the time to create a game—it’s right there for them and ready to play—then why wouldn’t they try it out?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Game Shows for Millennials (and Boomers, too).

We frequently get questions from clients and prospective game show users. Why not let everyone benefit from the answers? We thought we'd share here as well!

Q. I need ways to engage my Millennial-generation trainees without alienating the other generations. Will “Boomers” respond to the social/interactive game show as well?

A. Actually, even though game shows ARE a great way to engage the Millennial Generation—they aren’t unique in this.

It’s interesting that we’ve had a new wave of trainers “discovering” game shows—and that wave has been driven by the desire to engage the next generation. (For some reason, Millennials have gotten a “bad rap” as a generation that demands interaction and that you capture their attention.)

But the thing is: all generations need to be engaged and LIKE to be engaged. The Millennials just aren’t typically as patient when your training doesn’t include interaction.

Game shows might be a good way to mix your generations. The game play style is still familiar to Millennials and incorporates—perhaps--a bit of nostalgia for the Boomers. The Millennials will enjoy the peer-to-peer communication of team play, and the X-ers can triumph through competition.

We've seen clients using game shows specifically as a way to bridge the generation gaps in their company; the low-stress, friendly competition (incorporating a lot of positive emotion associations) is a great way to break the ice and get people working together.