On-Line Game Shows? They're Not Just for TV Anymore.
And That's Our Final Answer. March 15th, 2000
Randy: It's time to play "Let's Make a Problem!!" The exciting game show where you start-new-and-before-unmentioned problems between you and your friends and loved ones.
Gary: Weeeeee! I love this one. This is how I started the breakup of your mother and father's marriage.
Randy: That's right contestant number one, this is say what?
Gary: Yeah, I'm really good at this game show. I really caused a huge rift between your folks.
Randy: Oh yeah, I remember that. I always thought that was because of me, you know being born and all.
Gary: That's how good I am. I even got you wrapped up in it. I rule this game.
Randy: I don't like this game show any more. I want to play another game show. Let's play "Stab Your So-called Friend in the Eye with an Ice Pick."
Gary: I don't know if I know how to play this one.
Randy: You'll catch on. Just look up and hold still. You'll do fine.
Gary: Uhmmmm, isn't there some other game show we could play. Maybe on the computer, instead of my sclara.
Randy: Well, I suppose we could check out some game show style entertainment on the Mac.
Gary: Mac is goooooooood, ice pick baaaaaaaad!
Randy: Yeah I guess so. If we are looking for some cool multiplayer fun we can drop in one of Berkeley Systems most excellent You Don't Know Jack series CD-ROMs. These games are a wonderful escape from the first person shooter's that we are seeing so much of today. They take all of the fun of a TV trivia game show and pack it into the screen on your Mac. Complete with flashy graphics, funky back-up singers and an in your face game show host.
Gary: All of the You Don't Know Jack series of games are a blast . And one of the funniest aspects of the game is that it allows up to four players to use one Mac at the same time. So you can all compete in real time. Finally your Mac can become the party game you always wanted it to be.
Randy: While a few friends may enjoy looking over your shoulder while you frag some rage filled enemies in Quake Arena or Unreal Tournament, nothing can kill a party like a bunch of people zoning out on a computer monitor.
Gary: But with You Don't Know Jack each player gets a key on the keyboard as their buzzer, just like in a real game show. The game's host chooses who answers based on who buzzes in first, so the action can get pretty frantic.
Berkeley Systems You Don't know Jack series.
Perhaps you have seen this guy looking at you from a software shelf?
Get to know him, he knows how to party!
Randy: And there are so many version of You Don't Know Jack out that there is bound to be a category for everyone. Whether you are a sports buff, movie fan, TV head or whatever, there is a "Jack" volume for you.
Gary: True enough. But what about the web man? I want web based trivia abuse. I have a very short term memory and I can't possibly be expected to remember trivia from a month ago. I want up to the minute trivia. And some damn prizes too!!
Randy: Ah, Gerard, as always stupid and greedy. It's good to know there are still some constants in this universe.
Gary: I strive for consistency.
Randy: It shows. But as your dumb luck would have it there just happen to be some cool web based trivia game show style entertainment there too.
Randy: Probably the biggest and best-known site out there for web based trivia gaming is Uproar.com.
Gary: Oh yeah. That was originally a UK based site that had so much success they launched a US version. In fact they have a lot more than trivia games. There are several version of web based Bingo, Family Feud, arcade style games and plenty of casino games.
Randy: All live and multiplayer. And the trivia questions are extremely current. Often involving questions from this week's world and national news. Be forewarned there are quite a few pop-up window ads that leap out at you while you browse around Uproar's site. Learn the Apple + W key command, use it, it is your friend.
Some of the games use web-based technologies quite creatively. Uproar's Picture This game features multiplayer trivia combined with a picture puzzle that reveals a square each time a trivia question is answered correctly. As enough of the picture is revealed you can see if you can guess the celebrity picture and win the match.
The coolest feature is the interface for this game. When you log into a match you are asked whether you would like a male of female avatar. Then four players are matched up at random. Your avatar appears as a character sitting on a couch looking at the picture board, (a TV screen in front of the couch). The game play is turn based and if someone answers incorrectly you can steal the points by answering it yourself.
A picture of Picture This at Uproar.com
Who is that famous face on the screen behind Gary and Randy's arguing avatars?
But you can also chat with your co-players by using the chat box at the bottom of the interface. When your comment pops up it appears in a cartoon dialogue above your avatars head. While it's kind of silly, you really feel like you are connecting with these other people. It's simple but very effective.
Gary: Show me the money!
Randy: I'm getting there little Cuba. One of the biggest perks of the games at Uproar is that many of the games actually have prizes. Everything from cash to computers is on the list of available prizes. Certain games have specific prizes and others just enter you into a drawing for a prize if you win. Be sure and read the rules to each game before you dive in to see what awaits you if you are lucky enough to win.
Gary: Screw the lotto. I'm playing Bingo for my winnings now. Give me the snack food and beverage trivia category.
Randy: First there are no trivia questions in Bingo. Secondly, you must phrase your answers in the form of a question.
Gary: Uh, What is the snack food and beverage trivia category?
Randy: I will have to check with our judge, Probert.
Gary: The judge's name is Probert?
Randy: Not in this game but in MTV's The Probe game show, he's the host.
Gary: That was, perhaps the most contrived segue I have ever participated in.
Randy: Just follow the lead-in and no one will notice.
Gary: Alright, alright. We mentioned this a couple of weeks ago under the topic of 3-D plugins for your web browser, but since it is also a game show, we'll ride this horse into the ground. First, go to Pulse Network and get the Pulse player for your browser.
Randy: Then, go to Saturday Night Live's web site and check out The Probe, a serial animation that is half game show, half corny Buck Rogers spoof, and half outrageous comedy.
Gary: And half offensive stereotype, uh, thing. You see, Probert is a gay alien. And when I say gay, I mean, profoundly gay.
Randy: Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Gary: And his sidekick is a serape-wearing, over-the-top Mexican bandito.
Randy: Arriba, arriba! Andele, andele!
Gary: Now why did you have to go and say that? You know we can't spellcheck it. But The Probe is a very well done 3-D animation that is very entertaining and will keep you laughing.
Randy: The questions are all about SNL trivia, but if you think you are an expert on Saturday Night Live, think again.
Gary: There are some very difficult questions. Like do you know the name of the Eddie Murphy character that wanted to "kill his landlord"?
Join me in the cabana, big boy?
Randy: I hadn't thought of that. Okay, I'll say something gay. So, what do...
Gary: Whoa, dude! We've pushed the boundaries far enough for today. I don't need some activist group all over me.
Randy: That's true. Remember the problem we had with that swear word? I'm still a bit tense about that one...
Gary: Yeah, you're right. Our editor will probably edit out all the offensive things we just said anyway. Good call Randy!
Randy: Thanks, they don't call me Super Randy for nothing. But who's gonna know what he cut out anyway?
Gary: Uhhh... No one, and who calls you Super Randy?
Randy: Oops, that may have been a dream I had the other night, but maybe we shouldn't talk about that...
Gary: Another good call. Until next week folks!
Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.
The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.
You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .