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!


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.


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


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.


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!


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.


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!


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!


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!