Hi I’m Andre Meadows and this is Crash Course Games. If you’ve ever stayed home sick on a weekday and channel surfed, you’re probably familiar with today’s topic: game shows. While it might seem like there’s not much substance to the genre that brought us such shows as Cash Cab and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, they’ve actually been an important part of United States culture since the 1920s. Now game shows are slightly different from
the other games we’ve discussed in this series. You’re probably more likely to play Poker
in your lifetime than be a contestant on Jeopardy. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t
impact our lives. In fact, according to research, watching a game show might not be that much different than actually playing one. [Theme Music] Game shows started on an ancient device known
as the radio. Back then, they were known as quiz shows. And their predecessors were activities like
puzzles, spelling bees, and contests. In the 1920s, some radio shows started to incorporate question and answer segments, though they didn’t become truly popular until 1935 on NBC’s Vox Pop. The show brought in regular people to answer
questions for prizes. Not only was this the first quiz show, it’s considered one of the first shows to use audience participation. By the end of the decade, quiz shows were on all the major radio networks, and it wasn’t just an American phenomenon. In 1937, the Inter-regional Spelling Competition
premiered on BBC Radio. England also had the first TV game show, 1938’s
Spelling Bee. Two major game show varieties evolved. Quiz shows were a pretty simple question-and-answer
format. A popular example was the radio show Winner
Take All, which premiered in 1946. In the game, a host asked a question to two contestants, then whoever buzzed in first could answer. This is a mechanic we see in many game shows
up to this day. Then, there were panel shows featuring celebrity
panelists. So, instead of an ordinary contestant, these
people might be experts or comedians. The first-ever show of this genre was 1938’s
Information Please. Audience members submitted questions for the
panelists to answer. People who sent in questions that got used
would win money. And if the questions stumped the panel, they
won even more. Modern examples of panel shows include Match
Game and Hollywood Squares. I should note here that quiz shows also evolved into some other categories including giveaway shows (which were less knowledge-based) and stunt programs (in which contestants attempted a certain stunt). In the 1930s, social scientist Herta Herzog set out to learn why people tuned into these types of shows. She interviewed eight women and three men
about the radio program Professor Quiz. And, she found some similarities between the
quiz show listeners. They preferred to listen to a contestant who was most like themselves a.k.a. the “average” person. And they tended to be competitive; when a contestant made a mistake, it often caused a boost in the listener’s self-esteem. This is an interesting distinction – even though audience members aren’t actively playing in a game show, they still experience the competitive urges that accompany many other types of games that we’ve discussed in this series. We’ll delve into some more science a little later,
but for now: BACK TO HISTORY. Above all, these shows were entertainment. And the ones with more comedic elements tended
to do better as the genre developed. In 1946, journalist Maurice Zolotow referenced this phenomenon in an article for the Saturday Evening Post. He wrote, “Today a quiz program is mainly designed to exhibit slices of life, to present a cross section of strange, wonderful, bizarre and queer specimens of humanity. Frequently the dumber a contestant is, the
funnier he sounds on the air.” Sounds a little bit like the Real Housewives
and Bachelorette contestants, doesn’t it? Which isn’t a coincidence – we’ll get
into that later. Zolotow wasn’t totally wrong. Eventually, stunt and giveaway shows started
gaining on the original quiz show format. Audiences wanted something flashy – like people winning $1,000 by sheer random luck on the radio show Pot o’ Gold. And what the audience wants matters because these shows have always been supported by advertisers. So it’s probably obvious based on how many examples I’ve just given you, but these shows were hugely popular – they even changed the lifestyles of some Americans. For example, Pot o’ Gold called people randomly
on Tuesday nights. Just answering the phone got you the $1,000. If not, you received $100 as a consolation
prize. There were noticeable reductions in phone calls made on Tuesday because people didn’t want to tie up their phone lines in case they had won. There was also a drop in movie theatre attendance because people wanted to stay home, just in case. It got to the point where some theatre owners
started offering their own consolation prizes. If Pot o’ Gold happened to call a person while they were at the movies, the owner promised to give them the $1,000. In the 1940s, quiz shows popped up on American television where they became the thing to watch. Some earned up to a 50% rating share in the early days, meaning that half of U.S. televisions were tuned in. But these quiz shows encountered some setbacks, most notably in the 1950s when they went through a huge scandal. A few quiz shows were at its center involving rigged contests including The $64,000 Question and Dotto. But, we’re going to focus on a program called
Twenty-One. As I mentioned earlier, these shows were important to advertisers, who wanted good ratings, and for Twenty-One, they were falling. Producers knew that good numbers came when the shows were exciting and the audience’s favorite contestants won. In this case, that contestant was a 30-year-old
man named Charles Van Doren. Before appearing on the show in the late 1950s, he was a relatively well-known English professor at Columbia. So you can probably guess what happened: the
producers staged the show. They gave Van Doren the answers and they told
his opponent, Herb Stempel, to lose on purpose. Stempel later recalled that they gave him, “this old, ill-fitting suit and this Marine-type haircut was to make me appear as what you would call today, a nerd, a square.” He was made to look less attractive than his
opponent – true audience manipulation. The producers didn’t script just one show
either. Van Doren won episode after episode, earning a total of $128,000 on a streak going from November 28th, 1956 through March 11th, 1957. Eventually he “lost,” but the ordeal earned
him a three-year contract with NBC. Soon after, Stempel (and contestants on other fixed shows) came forward with the truth, igniting a huge scandal. President Dwight D. Eisenhower called it,
“a terrible thing to do to the American public.” It might not sound so shocking to you, since we’re all pretty accustomed to not-real reality television. But, before this moment, the majority of Americans didn’t have the same level of skepticism when it came to entertainment. They took radio and television at face value. In 1960, an amendment was added to the Communications Act of 1934, outlawing prearranged outcomes “with intent to deceive the listening or
viewing public.” Shows could no longer legally “supply to any contestant in a purportedly bona fide contest of intellectual knowledge or intellectual skill any special and secret assistance.” These strict regulations led the networks
to create standards and practices departments. And by the 1960s most quiz shows were moved
from primetime television to daytime and rebranded. That’s part of the reason why you’re more likely to hear the term “game show” than “quiz show” now. Sure, traditional question-and-answer quiz show formats remained, but there was also the introduction of many “game shows” which require more specific skills and rules. Olaf Hoerschelmann, author of Rules of the Game: Quiz Shows and American Culture, views that as a huge shift – the shows went from being highbrow to being perceived as “entertainment forms with low prestige.” They also became flashier The new goal was to redirect attention from daytime household tasks to the television, so music and sound effects became mainstays. [sound effect noises] Tons of shows that you can still watch today
began during this era. Jeopardy! premiered in 1964 on NBC. The Price Is Right began in 1956 on NBC before
moving to ABC, then CBS. And also dating shows like The Dating Game
emerged in the mid-1960s. Jumping forward to the 1990s, another innovation came to the format with increased audience participation in the form of call-in 900-numbers. And we can’t talk about shows that incorporated phones without talking about Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? and American Idol. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was originally a British game show, which ran from 1998 through 2014. By 2003, 70 countries had franchised it. It was an equally stressful show in every country,
as we know from the movie Slumdog Millionaire. The U.S. version first aired on ABC in August
1999, hosted by Regis Philbin. It was the most watched series from 1999-2000,
getting up to 30 million weekly viewers. In four years, it earned ABC an estimated
$300 million in profits. Game shows were BACK, and this represented a larger shift in American television in general: people wanted big prizes and reality. In 1999, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? gave
out a million dollar prize. Previously, the most money given out on an American game show was $312,700 on Tic-Tac-Dough in 1980. During the same era, more shows with a similar competition format and huge prizes arrived in the U.S., but these were branded as reality shows. Examples include American Idol, (another show originated from Britain), which aired in 2002 on Fox. It was the most watched series from 2003-2011
consecutively. And then there was the hit show Survivor. It aired on CBS in 2000, and it was inspired
by a Swedish show called Expedition Robinson. So, what’s the difference between a game
show and a “reality show”? Well, it’s up for debate. Reality shows have their origins in game shows,
so many consider them part of the genre. The games I listed are often known as “reality
competition shows” or “reality game shows.” Typically, when there’s a competition involved,
they’re viewed as offshoots from game shows. But something more documentary-style Keeping
Up with the Kardashians, aren’t. Thanks, Thought Bubble. All right, so now that we’ve covered game show history, we need to talk about its overall impact. Unlike some of the other forms of gaming we’ve talked about in this series, there are a couple different types of relationships a person can have with a game show. There are the in-studio players and the audience. Let’s start with in-studio players, otherwise
known as the contestants. Something that sets game shows apart from the other games we’ve discussed is that there’s a camera focused on the player, so there’s added stress to the situation. And the stakes are also extreme. Often times, contestants are playing for big
money and fabulous prizes. You can take a risk in a videogame, you just
restart. But you take a risk in a game show, you could
lose a potential million dollars. In 2008, the American Economic Review published a study addressing how people handle those stakes. The authors focused on the risk-taking behaviors
of contestants on Deal Or No Deal. If you’ve never seen it, a contestant picks
one briefcase out of around 26 options. Each has an amount of money in it (from one cent to a million dollars in the American version, but it varies from country to country). Then, the player chooses briefcases to open
revealing what ISN’T in theirs. Periodically, they receive offers to buy their
briefcase; then they have to make a choice. They have to decide whether to sell it, Deal, or keep playing in hopes of earning more money, No Deal. The researchers found that quote, “Risk aversion decreases after earlier expectations have been shattered by unfavorable outcomes or surpassed by favorable outcomes.” Basically, if a contestant opens the highest value briefcases first OR the lowest value ones, they’re going to be more prone to taking risks. There’s an “important role of previous
outcomes.” Though it’s worth noting that there’s
variety from contestant to contestant. If they all acted the same, it would be a
pretty boring show. We’ll get into this a bit more when we talk
about gambling. A similar study was conducted in 1995 on Jeopardy! contestants and concluded that those players tend to have minimal risk aversion, also known as “risk-neutrality.” We don’t know why these players are different
than Deal or No Deal ones. There might be a difference in contestant knowledge – Jeopardy contestants are probably aware of their own intellect. And it’s a game you can practice for. No amount of practice is going to ensure that you pick the million dollar suitcase in Deal or No Deal. It might also just be a matter of what type
of person is attracted to what game show. Perhaps Jeopardy contestants are more steady in their willingness to take risks and Deal or No Deal ones are less consistent. Of course you don’t have to be on a game
show to benefit from one. In 2011, researchers tested the knowledge of fifth-year medical students with one group learning through a lecture and another through a Jeopardy-style game. The researchers found that information retention was much higher in the group that learned the material in Jeopardy as opposed to the lecture. Now let’s talk about the audience watching
the game shows. I mentioned one study on the audience earlier which concluded that listeners of a quiz show experienced a competitive rush. From the genre’s early beginnings, producers have attempted to create as much drama, competition, and spontaneity as possible. But other than that, why do we like game shows
so much? Well, according to research by Alan Rubin viewers also rank game shows high in terms of “entertainment, convenience, companionship, and relaxation.” In another study conducted by Keith Roe and his colleagues, they narrowed down the main factors that draw people to watch game shows. The main factors include that they involve “ordinary people” and contain “big” prizes that can be won by demonstrating “everyday knowledge.” Basically, people like game shows that show it’s possible to win a ton of money or a new car or a dream vacation by just being themselves. So that’s been a pretty whirlwind trip through game shows – from their radio origins in the 1920s to reality shows in the modern day. From answering a question, solving the puzzle, guessing the password, or getting BIG BUCKS BIG BUCKS NO WHAMMYS, game shows have impacted audiences for decades. We’ve talked before on the series about
how games are unique in their universal accessibility. They’ve been enjoyed by people throughout
history and all over the world. And in the U.S., entertainment and media are similarly accessible to the majority of the population – they’ve always permeated throughout our culture. Honestly, there’s almost nothing more universal
than media here. So, while game shows might seem like a small facet of the gaming genre as a whole, you can view them as a part of something much bigger than themselves. And as contestants and viewers alike know, this genre commands a similar combination of entertainment, competition, and passion. Thanks for watching, and
we’ll see you next…blank Crash Course Games is filmed in the Chad and Stacey Emigholz Studio in Indianapolis, Indiana, and it’s made with the help of all these nice people. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for everyone forever, you can support the series at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows you to support the content you love. Speaking of Patreon, we’d like to thank all our patrons in general, and we’d like to specifically thank our High Chancellor of Knowledge, Morgan Lizop, and our Vice Principal, Michael Hunt. Thank you for your support.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Here in Mexico the price is right had a lot of sucess in the time. Some stunt shows also had a brief sucess like "people with spark" about eating weird foods or making athletic activities. But one of the most sucessfull ones is "100 mexicans said", in wich before the show 100 people choosen at random was asked a few questions, then the participants had to give they answers as well. If they answer was the most popular answer on the poll, they won.

  2. I assume you have a dedicated episode planed, but I was surprised you didn't mention Let's Plays at least on the sidelines.

    The Game Theorists actually recently made a really grate video on Let's Plays and their origin.

  3. Those unfamiliar with TV and radio before 1960 might be puzzled by the big bottle of the tonic Geritol. Back then advertisers directly paid for each program, making the term "sponsor" literally true. Not only were their products shown (and often used) during the program, they had even more control over a show's content than the network. The quiz show scandal had a much bigger impact on US television than just the downfall of game shows. It was the first crack in direct advertiser power and the networks were happy to fill the void. They also increased in-house content production instead of simply outsourcing to independent producers.

  4. I wonder why, when they amended the telecommunications act after the 21 scandal, they ONLY targeted "intellectual" competitions. After all, even in the 50s the fact that pro wrestling was scripted was becoming a poorly-kept secret, and other competitions – like boxing – could just as easily be rigged even if it wasn't totally endemic. (Probably.) Yet they only went after quiz shows, specifically, even when a "no rigging in ANY competition" law would have been just as easy. Funny about that.

    (And by "funny" I mean "someone likely got paid off and/or had their kneecaps threatened.")

  5. Crash course are really slacking .

    First they get this guy who by the looks of it is reading a script and has no idea what he is talking about .

    Then you look at the political agenda they force in there videos .

    And then there is the quality or lack thereof

  6. If you want to watch a quiz show that could give you a big boost in self-esteem, or the opposite, is University Challenge, normally filled with Britain's students from top Universities. in teams of 4, Oxford and Cambridge is split into their colleges. When you get a question right that an Oxford team got wrong, it's really fun.

  7. Interesting. It makes sense that game shows should be here, but I would have spread it across 2 parts.

    I would have liked to seen the way a similar show has different impacts around the world. Like how Japanese games shows propel contestants to celebrity while a similar show in Wipeout barely makes a blip. Also the rise of game show competitions that look for excellence like American Ninja Warrior. Or how success in a game show elevates our opinion of someone. Celebrities on Wheel of Fortune? meh. Celebrities on Jeopardy? I need to reassess my view of Aisha Tyler.

    One bonus level would be artificial intelligence in playing these games versus video games. The computer can beat me and dozens of players in chess, WoW or CoD, but Watson winning on Jeopardy generated a months worth of tech stories. One is a big deal, but another is so commonplace it is routine.

    There is a lot of material there. Too much for one episode.

  8. I felt like you left out the awesome game shows on Nickelodeon in the 90's. I feel they helped break my generation of game show watchers.

  9. "Modern examples of panel shows include 'Match Game' and 'Hollywood Squares'" — both of which date to the mid '60s. Modern indeed.

  10. My family is very competitive when it comes to watching Jeopardy at home, but in the classroom I hate playing Jeopardy because I retain nothing. Also, I think that Dancing with the Stars is a much better reality competition show than the others mentioned, as the contestants are continuously learning and improving their abilities.

  11. Is there possibly a Crash Course art history course in the making? If not, I think it would be cool if it was taught by Sarah Green. (I didn't know where else to ask this question.)

  12. Just a minor correction: Survivor was not inspired by Experdition Robonson, Experdition Robonson was the first edition (the Swedish edition) of what would become the global TV franchise of Survivor (source: i am a huge fan of Survivor).

  13. I can't agree with most of the comments here. Although the topic is somewhat unusual for the series, this was one of the most interesting episodes so far. For example, I like how we got into the cultural studies' question of an active or passive audience and the influence of pop culture on our lives here.

  14. you should do a video about the history of table-top RPG's/ wargames (D&D, Warhammer 40k, Star Wars X-Wing, Infinity, etc)

  15. Is there a correlation between "Pot of Gold's" Tuesday night time slot and movie theatres offering cheap tickets on Tuesday nights? An effort to get people back in theatres?

  16. Why do you talk to us about something that we can agree on, like you are talking to me directly, and then assume I'm from the United States immediately after? When will americans learn to stop generalising their audiences as americans all the time?

  17. I was going to say i know for a fact that the UK is HEAVY into game shows.. then he mentioned the first televised game show was actually from the UK..sounds highly accurate.. lol

  18. And then TV died out in favor of on demand content on youtube and this entire CC episode was made irrelevant. Well a decent history lesson at least.

  19. I understand why they didn't mention the movie Robert Redford made about the quiz show scandal starring Ralph Fiennes, but I was still kinda hoping they'd give it a drop as a "It was such a big deal that Hollywood made a movie about it" sort of thing. But scripts need to be short, I get it ^_^ I enjoyed this video more than I thought I would despite a lack of video games haha

  20. One little factoid from the Quiz Show Scandal that didn't make this video, though it is kind of a side note and it sounds like this video was squeezed a bit: In that era, basically every show was DIRECTLY sponsored by a company (for example, "soap operas" are so named because soap companies sponsored them), and the company's executives were directly involved in the production of the show. So, part of the fallout from the scandal was banning that sort of involvement. Companies could no longer place their names in shows or be directly involved with their production. But how would TV networks afford to produce their shows without companies basically buying them? The idea was hatched to take the small advertisements that would happen during shows for that company's products, offer them to several companies at once, and air them during the programs.

    That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the Quiz Show Scandal led to the birth of commercials.

  21. The Arcade Pit is my favorite game show although it's done entirely on Twitch by a guy named Smite (later uploaded to YouTube naturally.) It's pretty entertaining, and kind of fits with Crash Course: Gaming.

  22. You can't seriously say that handhelds may not have a bright future without saying that game shows are falling out of fashion

  23. Really surprised that there was no mention of the more imaginative and physical category of game shows, i grew up watching shows like the Crystal Maze, where the contestants moved from room to room solving various types of puzzles with the risk of getting locked in the room if they fail and exceed the time limit .. there were also competition shows where two or more teams of players compete in various physical tasks and activities earning points in every round till one team reigns supreme, there was a show in the 80s or 90s not sure that was pretty elaborate and a lot of fund to watch but i forgot what it was called, but i'm pretty sure it was European.

  24. hi crash course games it's nice to see the black nerd in a different format it's my first time catching the show/ by the way one of my favorite game shows was Groucho Marx What's My Line.

  25. I'm a little surprised that they left out two things from this episode:
    1. The role and celebrity status of the hosts like Alex Trebec and Pat Sajak/ Vanna White as that's a pretty strange phenomenon
    2. A more in depth discussion of the winnings for example Ken Jennings and especially Watson and how that was such a huge thing as it was done. They had mentioned Deep Blue and the robot that beat a human on "Go" in a previous episode and I am a little surprised they didn't at least mention that here.

  26. 4:34 There's no way it's him, but the guy on the left looks EXACTLY like Pat Sajak. Funny considering he hosts a game show too.

  27. GCSE Media student just come across this video while looking for a new crash course to start binging, definitely going to be coming back to this video during my revision since our exam topic this year is game shows-

  28. I've always had a hard time calling shows like Survivor and Big Brother actual game shows, since they are far less focused on competition and more on fostering a soap opera-like drams and plotline. Will A betray B? Will C vote off D? It's more about the people, less about the competition.

    I feel that shows like The Amazing Race and The Mole are much closer to actual game shows, since they based their elimination scheme not on votes, but on whoever failed their competitions. Additonally, the competitive sections were a larger focus of the show as a whole, not the lives and interactions of their contestants. They were much more like a traditional "game show" as we know it.

    I also feel like American Idol, AGT, etc. are an entirely different genre on their own. The "talent show" more akin to American Bandstand and Star Search.

  29. You forgot to mention kid's game shows. The most popular which is Double Dare. There is also Nick Arcade, Nickelodeon Guts, and Legends of the Hidden Temple.

  30. Donna Brazil was giving Hillary Clinton the questions before debates. Once again proving Hilary should be locked up for violating the Federal Communications Act of 1934.

  31. There was a game show that tested the matching between a couple. They were being asked to answer the same question without hearing each others. It was totally based on love and how strong is the relationship, not based on knowledge, memory, or other skills. For example: "You both will attend the cinema this weekend… which film would you pick of these three ?" Something like that.
    Does anybody know/remember the title of that show ?

  32. "…she interviewed eight women, three men, a dog, two caterpillars and a cold piece of bread."
    Ah, social sciences at its finest.

  33. 7:59 The game show Million dollar chance of a life time aired in the 80s, and had 9 1,000,000 dollar winners

Related Post