Game Shows Without Borders

Hello! This week our bilingual Canadian guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back – this time with a game show adventure that takes him across international borders, in a case of ‘Game Shows Sans Frontieres’…

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My Life in Game Shows

Episode 8: Playing In Your Second Language – ‘Motus’, 2013

In late 2011, I found out that I had secured the first (of what, thankfully, led to many) tickets to see the London 2012 Olympics. Having watched game shows based in France for at least 20 years, I decided that perhaps the time was right to reach out to Motus, which is a French game show based on the little-known late 80s Canadian game show Lingo and better known these days from its version on Game Show Network in the USA. After some back and forth conversation (to check if I was eligible), I arranged for an audition in late August 2012.

PRO TIP: If you’re travelling abroad, apply for a game show! The contestant staff actually took the time to have a private audition with me because as much as I wanted to be on their show, I’m sure they saw it as a nice thing to have someone promoting their show outside their national borders.

I’ll have to be honest – I trained for several weeks for Motus, watching back episodes and playing the game online. I had the audition and I felt went just okay. I wish I had done more. I left thinking it was a “thanks but no thanks” situation, although they did extend the courtesy of giving me a home game on which to practice.

Which leads me to April 2013, when at about 6:30 AM one day I checked my email and found I had been given a tape date to be on the show! I quickly accepted, booked a flight, and four months later I was on set – with my father in tow – to tape my run on the show.

PRO TIP: Use your lead time wisely. I found a GREAT story online by Robert McKee, that described a wonderful strategy for how to play the game. I worked his tips into my strategy for playing the game.

The taping, unlike those in North America, was very calm and put me at ease. We simply stood at the podium and played the game off of a monitor. In fact, the only concern I had was talking in my second language, which turned out not to be a problem at all.

PRO TIP: When applying for a game show, give them a hook. Make them interested in you! I made sure to mention, for example, that I watched their show on the satellite channel available to me.

During the game, I played out my strategy, which worked for my teammate and I. I took my time, made educated guesses, and decided not to play the game exclusively as a game of words, but rather a puzzle to be solved, which just happened to involve letters and not numbers or pictures.

PRO TIP: Have FUN when you’re playing the game. I decided before the show to play to win but also to let my mind be at ease, and to roll with the punches. I enjoyed myself so much that I ended up on a French blooper show! If you’re having fun you’re going to do better.

Here is the episode! 

And here’s the subsequent clip on the blooper show (sorry for the point and shoot!)

While we didn’t win the show (due to some unlucky bingo ball drawing) it was a great experience, and one that challenged me both on a game show level and a language level. I was grateful to my partner for agreeing to play on a team with me, and to the staff of the show as well. In fact, the show allows another go…. so I think I might just do that!

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Merci, Monsieur Vickers – C’était génial! (which Google Translate tells me is French for “That was great!”) I can’t imagine the added degree of difficulty that competing in a different language would bring to the game, and I applaud you for diving in. And I hadn’t really thought about it before, but if you are travelling overseas, why not apply to be on a game show while you’re there? You have absolutely nothing to lose, and potentially a whole lot to gain.

Sympa, Ryan! (which Google Translate tells me is French for “Nice one, Ryan!”)

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