Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Top 5 Reasons They're Not Answering Your Game Show Questions

It's game time. Your game show is all ready to go. The content is in place, the ring-in devices are handy. You read the first question and. . .

. . . no one is ringing in to answer. The answer timer counts down in silence (with maybe a little prompting from the host; "Anyone? Anyone know the answer? Ring in..."). You reveal the answer and move on to the next question, thinking it's a fluke response. Again, the proverbial crickets chirp in place of audience responses!

So what happened? Game shows are pretty much guaranteed to generate energy and excitement in the classroom. Are your trainees just really, really shy? Out of coffee? Something else?

Here are the top 5 reasons we've found for the occasional audience-wide silence in response to game show questions.

1. The questions are too tough. Complexity is not a question's friend. If it takes contestants too long to process what you're actually trying to ask--the clock is going to tick away with nary a response. Avoid the complicated word-problem questions, questions that actually ask multiple questions (or ask you to fill in multiple blanks) or questions with many layers of information or qualification required.

Similarly, if it takes contestants too long to figure out a difficult solution to a question, the question should either be simplified or used in a less rapid-fire format. (I.e. Instead of a Categories-style game, an untimed Tic-Tac-Toe game might be more appropriate.)

Once, we had a presenter who spoke for 90 minutes and then wanted to play a game show to review her content. When the time came for the audience to answer the questions, no one was ringing in. She had covered the content, but it was too complex for the audience to absorb without a simpler review.

Tip: Questions should be not-too-easy (there needs to be some challenge) and not-too-tough (allowing the contestants to grasp the concepts).

2. The content wasn't covered.
This is the sister problem of the questions being too tough--if only because content that wasn't covered and isn't with the knowledge base of the audience IS technically too tough.

We once created a game for a training course. It was the first time we had given this course, so we only had a rough idea of the timing. We ended up running long, and had to skip almost the last third of our presentation. We didn't, however, want to skip the energizing post-session game show. As could be expected, the first 2/3 of the game show went really well. . . and the last third had us pleading, "I know we didn't cover this, but try to take a guess?"

Tip: This is where the "end game" feature comes in handy if you're using Gameshow Pro. You can also turn the game show into an open-book game if your trainees have access to materials you haven't reviewed yet.

3. The contestants don't understand the rules. We were once playing a Jeopardy!-style Categories game. A team selected the category and point value. The question was read. No one rang in. When the time ran out, we asked if anyone wanted to take a guess at the answer. As it turns out, the other (non-category-selecting) teams KNEW the answer, but thought that ONLY the team in control of the board was eligible to answer the question. Oops.

Explaining the rules clearly and up front is critical to the success of your game show. If you're using ring-in slammers, the contestants might not know *when* they can start to ring in, or who should ring in, or whether they can ring in after a team answers correctly, or how long they have to decide to ring in, etc.

Tip: Cover the rules after you introduce the game and the stakes--attention will be at its peak. Also, it's helpful to play a sample question to familiarize the audience with how the game is played.

4. Too much pressure. Your whole audience might not be shy, but chances are you'll have a mix of introverted and extroverted people. Playing individualistically can cause particular people to "opt out" of playing the game for fear of embarrassment or simply because they don't want the spotlight on themselves.

Tip: Playing in teams instead of individually is tremendously helpful in mitigating the pressures and stresses that some people may feel. There is an accountability to one's team, but not having the direct responsibility of standing up and giving an answer can be an enormous relief. You may want to designate an outgoing team captain to be the mouthpiece of the group; that way everyone can contribute but only the person who feels comfortable speaking up will be required to do so.

5. Too much risk. You're playing a Jeopardy-style categories game. You've been deducting points for incorrect answers. The scores are very close. It may be a difficult question--one that's worth a lot of points.

The team in the lead doesn't want to give up that lead, and the teams behind them don't want to lose ground. No one wants to take the risk of answering the question, so they let the time slip away. No one gains any points, but no one loses anything, either. This is a somewhat-rare phenomenon, but it does happen.

Tip: Incorporate chances to "catch up" inside the game--like extra bonus and wager questions, or just extra credit things that people can do for extra points.

You may also choose to deduct FEWER points for an incorrect answer than the question is worth. (I.e. Set the penalty at 50 points for each question, whether they're worth 200 points, or 1000.) This way the reward is greater than the risk. You may also set the game to take NO point deductions for wrong answers, if you so desire.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Training Just Got More Exciting: LearningWare Releases Gameshow Pro Version 5

LearningWare; Minneapolis, MN.  November 1, 2010: LearningWare, the experts in using game shows for training, is pleased to announce the release of Gameshow Pro Version 5. Gameshow Pro version 5 combines 7 different Hollywood-style game show templates with LearningWare’s popular AllPlay assessment software functionality. This means that trainers can quickly create their own Hollywood-style game shows in their classrooms using their own content for preview, teaching, review, assessment, energizers and more.

Using game shows in training is one of the most effective ways to increase content retention. The competition and game show experience provides a unique way to engage every trainee in a classroom; reinventing the sometimes-dry or dull training experience. Gameshow Pro is already in use in over 35,000 classrooms by trainers worldwide, and is loved by both trainers and trainees alike.

First launched in 1995, Gameshow Pro is now being released in its 5th version. It features 7 different TV-style game formats—one more than the previous release. The addition of AllPlay functionality means that each player can answer game questions using their own audience response keypad—for accurate tracking and assessment—OR players can use slammers to ring-in as a team for an exciting game show experience.

“The new release of Gameshow Pro 5 is a game-changer. Never before has it been so easy to bring game shows into the training classroom,” says Dan Yaman, President and Founder of LearningWare, “Not only does this give much-needed innovation to the industry, but it isn’t just a step forward—it’s a leap.”

The new release is a more full-bodied and powerful training tool, and it still retains its easy-to-use format. New and exclusive features include:

     AllPlay assessment capability.
     14 new game board designs—redesigned to range from corporate-sleek to Hollywood-splashy.
     A robust question library with superior search-ability and sort-ability that makes it even easier to organize content.
     Expanded ready-to-use sound and graphics libraries.
     A redesigned interface that makes the game more intuitive than ever to use.
     And many, many more.

People interested in getting a free 30-day trial to Gameshow Pro can visit

For more information on the newly released Gameshow Pro Version 5, please visit, and call 1.800.457.5661 or email

Since 1995, LearningWare ( has been producing software templates that have been proven to increase content comprehension and retention. They are the leading providers of game show software, and have products that include Gameshow Pro 5, QuizPoint and  AllPlay Web.