Guest blogger Ryan’s appearance on a cult classic…

Hello!

Firstly, an apology for the fact that I didn’t post here last Tuesday.

I was away on a little family holiday, enjoying a bit of R & R, so HowToWinGameShows.com wasn’t front and centre in my mind. It is this week, though, and today, our guest blogger Ryan Vickers returns, with Episode 6 of his game show adventures. And coincidentally enough, this time, it’s all about a certain holiday that HE took, and how game shows DID remain front and centre in HIS mind while he was away. Over to you, Ryan. 

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My Life In Game Shows

Episode 6: A cult classic – ‘Countdown’, 2009

In 2009 I embarked on a year-long adventure. I took leave from work and was determined to fulfil many goals that required different timing than my job would normally allow. In addition to wanting to see game show tapings – and I ended up seeing 12 different tapings on three different continents, which I’ll talk about in a future post – I also wanted to BE on another game show in a completely different country. I set my sights on the UK – I had previously lived there and was familiar with many of their game shows.

I ended up downloading three application forms – Going For Gold, The Weakest Link and Countdown. Of the three, I decided to focus on Countdown as I felt I would be at less of a disadvantage because the other two required knowledge that may have been Euro-centric.

PRO TIP: If you’re serious about getting on a game show, make sure to pick one that plays to your strength. Ask yourself where you feel the most confident – Words? General knowledge? Audience participation? Talent based? – and focus on that.

Initially I tried to email the application but it bounced for whatever reason. So I went old school and sent off a letter in early June of 2009. A week later, I received an email from the associate producer with the first line stating “Thank you for your application for Countdown – although we were a little surprised to see the Canadian address!”.

PRO TIP: If you’re thinking about applying for a game show in another region, DO IT! The worst they can say is no. And if they say “sure, we can accept your application”, they will probably be very accommodating. Shows really like contestants from “far away”!

To speak to that tip, the associate producer arranged not only to do an audition over the phone but also made sure that a tape date would work with my travelling that fall. As a result, that November I found myself on the set of Countdown taping an episode.

… And that’s where this picture of Ryan comes from!

Countdown was a wonderful experience but is very much a quiet affair. It has great play-along value both in the studio and at home. Which leads me to my next piece of advice.

PRO TIP: Seek out any ways to practice the game you can. Don’t only watch the show as it is currently running (which tends to be difficult if you’re not in the normal viewing circle) but seek out past episodes on sites like YouTube. Play the home game, find online stand-alone or multiplayer games too. Perhaps the show has an official game on the Apple Store or Google Play and if not, find a knock-off version. If all else fails, build yourself your own practice set. Many games allow this – Countdown for example only required me to make decks of consonants, vowels, and a series of numbers.

On the show I had thirty seconds with the clock going to either find a longest word or do a calculation. This time goes by quickly!

PRO TIP: Focus on the task at hand. I learned to block out the clock’s accompanying music only until the last few beats when there was a tempo change, so as to confirm my answer. Focusing on the task at hand also means making sure to not worry about other things going on around you in the studio, which you likely can’t control.

Although Countdown did hand me my first game show loss (and yes, I’m well aware of this site’s name but sometimes you don’t always win, sadly!) I made sure to take lessons from it. In retrospect, I would have prepared differently using more online resources. However this did help me for future game show outings!

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Thanks Ryan, some great tips there. For those of you in Australia, the equivalent show here was Letters and Numbers, which ran on SBS from 2010 to 2012. It was hosted by journalist / newsreader Richard Moorecroft, although one of the hopefuls who auditioned to host the particular show was in fact….. me.

But that’s another story, and one which I’ll be relating soon, right here at HowToWinGameShows.com!

Guest blogger Ryan’s Top Auditioning Tips.

Guest blogger Ryan Vickers

Hello!

Our guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back again this week, with his thoughts on – and experiences of – auditioning for various different game shows. So, if you’re wondering whether or not to take the plunge and apply to get on your favourite game show, you’ll no doubt find his words of wisdom very handy!

And just a reminder, if you’d like to be a guest blogger for HowToWinGameShows.com too, I’d love to hear from you! Just email me, at Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com.

But now, it’s over to Ryan for Episode 5 of His Life In Game Shows….

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My Life In Game Shows

Episode 5: Try, Try, Try, Try, Try Again – Experiences In Auditioning

Over the years, I’ve been able to audition for various game shows and have applied for many more. And, just like me, the way that you were able to audition for game shows has changed. Originally it was merely the task of making a phone call when you saw the number on the screen during the show or read about an audition in the paper. Nowadays the “audition” has changed more into the “casting process” with considerably longer applications to fill out. Today, I’m talking about my experiences in various types of game show auditioning.

A WRITTEN APPLICATION

The first show I ever auditioned for was Wheel of Fortune. Once I was lucky enough to be randomly selected for a spot by random draw, I encountered what I would term the “personality form”. On many shows, longer forms are required – for example the English-Canadian version of Deal or No Deal was approximately an 11 page application that also required you to choose four dynamic people to be your “rooting section”

PRO TIP: When faced with questions like “Tell us something about yourself” or “What would you do with the money?”, take some time to think it through and put something unique. If you might spend the money on a trip, make sure to expand by picking something out of the ordinary that you might do, like a specific activity. I put down that I had swum in jello for a local mall contest; that was certainly out of the ordinary!

A CATTLE CALL

Two specific US game shows currently airing on the CBS Television Network – The Price is Right & Let’s Make A Deal – do auditions in the style of “speed dating”. Their contestants are picked from the audience members that have previously secured tickets for that day’s taping. The contestant staff quickly asks you questions like “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?”.

PRO TIP: Be yourself – just a bit bigger – when faced with this type of audition. Most importantly, BE YOURSELF. They will see through the fakers!

A PHONE / SKYPE CHAT

Following a written application, sometimes you’ll be asked to do a chat over the phone or Skype. They may ask you specifically why you want to play the game, or they may want you to play the game over the phone. The latter experience is the one I had when I applied for the French-Canadian shows Atomes Crochus (Blankety Blank / Match Game) and Pyramide ($100,000 Pyramid).

PRO TIP: MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THE GAME. Unless it’s a new game show (and that’s happened to me before) make sure you know how to play the game. It’ll look really embarrassing if you don’t know what’s going on in that situation!

THE (UN)INTENTIONAL IN-PERSON LAST CUT

At no point in the audition and appearance process is a game show obligated to put you “on the show”. Sometimes shows are very honest about this, and bring in more contestants than they actually need with the intention of not everyone getting to play on that day (but hopefully they will be playing at a later date). Sometime shows are literally watching during the taping and may switch prospective players out without any of their knowledge! This does happen at some shows – I’ve witnessed it!

PRO TIP: Keep up that high energy during the contestant briefing. You want to prove to the contestant staff that they picked you for a reason! And keep up that high energy throughout the taping, too! If you’re encouraged to get up and dance during a commercial break, DO IT. I stood up and danced at The Price is Right before the taping so I could prove I had great energy!

In the next episode of My Life In Game Shows, I’ll tell you about the first time I tried to get on a show across the Atlantic!

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Thanks Ryan, looking forward to it.

One auditioning tip of Ryan’s today particularly stood out for me; Be yourself – just a bit bigger. He’s dead right – in fact, this exact advice has been given before here on the blog, by producers and executive producers of shows such as Family Feud and Millionaire Hot Seat. Game show producers are ALWAYS looking for contestants who are cheerful, outgoing and have a great sense of fun. Another way of putting Ryan’s tip would be BE YOURSELF… BUT ON A REALLY GOOD DAY!

And that’s it for this week. I’d like to thank Ryan again for sharing his game show adventures with us. Until next time!

Ryan’s back, with Episode 4 of His Life In Game Shows…

Guest blogger Ryan Vickers.

Hello! This week our favourite Canadian guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back.

Oh alright, he’s our only Canadian guest blogger, but he’s still our favourite. Anyway, in this, Episode 4 of His Life In Game Shows, he takes us through a buzzer-based game show called Brain Battle, which he competed on in 2007. If you’ve never seen the show, don’t worry – Ryan’s helpfully included a couple of links to it so that you can watch his episode on YouTube… and maybe even play along at home, if you feel so inclined.

So… take it away, Ryan!

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My Life In Game Shows

Episode 4: Going Live – Brain Battle, 2007

The late noughties (the 00s if you will) saw a new development in game shows; the ability to participate from home, via a premium toll phone number. One of Canada’s first shows to use this was called Brain Battle, and it aired live on the Global Television Network at 11 AM in Toronto. As it was a buzzer quiz with a simple game mechanic, I figured I might do well. I phoned up the number and booked an audition/meeting for that Thursday. This, I found out, was more of a formality than anything else. As the game needed four new contestants EVERY SHOW (and it was running weekdays for an hour), it was less of an interview than a “when can we book you for?” situation. I was to make my appearance that following Tuesday.

PRO TIP: If you’re a local, or will be in the area, make sure you tell them of your availability! They might just book you on the spot!

I returned on the Tuesday, and from the green room, was able to watch the first half of the game between a married couple  This was useful as I could see how the game was played. In my half of the game I was up against a college student.

PRO TIP: Prepare and “execute” your resources. I coach “quiz bowl” at my school and thus had access to a set of buzzers to practice with.

Here’s my episode of Brain Battle PART 1 (of 2)….

The object of Round One, as you can see, was to fill in the middle word in a chain like SAFETY (BLANKET) STATEMENT. This I saw as an advantage, as I had played something like this before…

PRO TIP: Use your advantages! Round One of this game for me was just like BEFORE & AFTER from Wheel of Fortune, and I treated it as such.

After Round One I had a comfortable lead, but I knew with correct answers going up to 20 points I would still have to work at it. Round Two required you to pick the correct spelling of a word amongst four choices.

PRO TIP: Use your strengths! I tend to read quickly, and that helped me greatly during this situation.

Furthermore, I was able to pick up on the host’s cadence. Luckily enough, a typical sequence in that round went like this:

  • Four choices of words pop up
  • Jason, the host, starts to say the word
  • I would buzz in
  • Jason would stop saying the word, call on me, and I would answer.

I was able to ascertain that there would be about a one-to-two second delay between me buzzing in early and being able to speed-read through the choices. As you can see in the link, this helped me quite a bit!

My episode of Brain Battle PART 2 (of 2)

In Round Three, all questions were true or false, with a linking word or theme between statements. I got off to a strong start and ended up winning, to advance to the bonus round!

Having not scored anything in two previous bonus round attempts, I was anxious to hopefully do better this time. The bonus round gave you a statement word and then three choices. You started on $100, going up $100 every time you were right and moving down $100 when you were wrong. I started off strong, stumbled a bit, and then was able to clear a $600 prize at the last minute. And because it’s Canada, it’s tax free so that was my take home!

Next time, I’ll talk about my experiences in auditioning for various game shows.

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Thanks for that, Ryan – I look forward to it!

I was particularly interested this time in Ryan’s tips about anticipating the host’s questions. If you’re on a quickest-on-the-buzzer type quiz show, I think learning this technique can give you a real edge. I remember that was EXACTLY what I did on my Temptation run…

Focus on the host’s mouth, then buzz in when you think you know where the question’s leading.

He or she will still read a couple more words of the question after you buzz, and then you’ll get at least 2 or 3 seconds while the host ascertains who’s buzzed in, and calls your name. Then it’s only after that, that your official answering time (often 5 seconds) begins.

2 or 3 seconds may not sound like a lot, but trust me – it is. That time is GOLD in the fast paced cut-and-thrust of a quiz show battle – USE IT!

It will give you a solid edge over the contestants who don’t.

Until next time!

EXCLUSIVE Guest Post # 3 from serial game show contestant Ryan Vickers

Guest blogger Ryan Vickers

Hello.

Our guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back this week, with an account of his adventures on a Canadian game show from some ten years ago called Inside The Box. I must admit, I was unfamiliar with this show, but I did enjoy reading Ryan’s post, and the fact that he provided links to an actual episode on YouTube really helped it all fall into place.

I hope that you enjoy Ryan’s latest contribution to HowToWinGameShows.com too! ===================================

My Life In Game Shows

Episode 3: Homegrown talent – Inside the Box, 2006

Many game show fans don’t think Canada is a hotbed for game shows – but now and then we get a few. In 2006 I answered an online ad for a TV trivia show. I arrived back from a weekend scuba diving trip to find a tryout invitation for later that day in my inbox! I rushed to get organized and headed to the location specified.

The interview itself was very low-key, and it was a bit odd as the show hadn’t aired yet. We were asked to do a written test that was right out of an English as a Second Language course and then play an alphabet-based game to associate characters and shows. Right then and there, I was told I was going to be on the show!

Which was all well and good.

However…

Weeks went by. I was told of the taping schedule (roughly) and wondered if I’d get a tape date.

Then, thankfully, one Sunday night, I got a call to tape the next day!

PRO TIP:

BE FLEXIBLE (if your schedule allows) for a tape date. You never know – they might not call again!

I arrived at the studio around 12 PM. The benefit of getting a tape date not near the start of the taping block is that they actually could show us an episode! The show was called Inside The Box, and was based on the parlour game of “20 Questions”, except it dealt with TV characters, TV performers and TV shows. The show required two parts – asking your own questions while “inside the box” for two rounds (where you could score “time”) and answering other contestants’ questions for four rounds (where you could lose “time” if you answered incorrectly).

Right then and there I started to develop strategies.

PRO TIP:

For answering questions, I made sure to give a quick direct “YES” or “NO” to move the game along. This was to make sure I didn’t incur too many penalties, and to put the onus on my opponent to answer.

For asking questions, I had once read that good players on Jeopardy! didn’t look at the scores. While playing “inside the box” I just plowed through the questions, and took a breather when the major clue came up (after five YES answers).

Here’s the episode in four parts:

PART 1PART 2, PART 3 and PART 4.

As you can see, I struggled somewhat during Sean’s first puzzle. That wasn’t nerves… that was just the fact that I had never seen the show in question!

PRO TIP:

Don’t let yourself get bogged down on one or two questions. You need to keep going! In this game being in control “inside the box” was more valuable.

And when I said I plowed through the questions, I wasn’t kidding. My goal was to get as much information as I could before I took my (free) guess. As you can see, the other players guessed in other spots in their rounds (which they were allowed to do) but incurred time penalties. I wanted to be sure that I made an educated guess in the time allotted.

What you couldn’t necessarily see was the content on the screens when you were “inside the box”. To my left was a monitor that listed any information that was gained from a “YES” answer and any major clues given. To the right was a bank of thirty questions. These tended to be general questions while you were trying to get the five “YES” answers. Once this was accumulated, a new bank of thirty appeared that were more specific. During the second bank of questions, I could see that it was pointing towards a character from The Golden Girls, and that helped me glean my answer.

I was delighted that Betty White, US game show national treasure, “helped” me win the game. Oh, and if they’d never told me the bonus answer, I’d still be there, 11 years later! Speaking of which, Canadian content rules deem shows to have rerun value, so this episode still pops up now and then, much to the delight of my insomniac friends!

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Thanks for that Ryan, and thanks for your ‘Pro Tips’ too. Although Inside The Box is no longer with us, I feel these tips can be applied to a number of current game shows. There’s wisdom in those words, folks!