Monday, August 22, 2011

Do You Want the Money?

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

...or do you want the Mob??

I really enjoyed 1 vs. 100 the few times I saw it. I caught it randomly, and when you look at its broadcast history, it's no wonder! It got moved around, promised and taken away, and competed against too many other things at different times.

Brief history: The game premiered in the Netherlands in 2000. Early adopters included Portugal (2004), Spain (2006), and the UK (2006). In the US, it started in 2006 on NBC, and ran until 2008 with Bob Saget as the host. When GSN ran more episodes in 2010 and January 2011, members of the Mob participated via webcam. The popularity of the show has had varying degrees of success across the world, though the craze has mostly died out in America by this point. In Spring 2009 you could play over Xbox Live (which I've tried - it was fun!), and there are versions available for both the Nintendo DS and mobile phones.

The game: The premise is simple: you are a single person trying to prove that you know more than the 100-person "Mob" against which you are pitted. Sometimes the individual is chosen at random from the Mob, while other times the player is selected from a completely different pool. The questions are multiple choice and the Mob is given fifteen seconds to lock in their answers before the contestant picks their choice. If the player is struggling, there were three "helps" available: Poll the Mob, Ask the Mob, and Trust the Mob. Polling the Mob would let you choose one of the choices and see which Mob members selected that response. You could choose one of them to discuss their pick, then give your answer. Asking the Mob selected two contestants - one who got it right and one who got it wrong. This eliminates the third choice and gives you a chance to hear the logic behind the other two options. Trusting the Mob just locked you in to the most popular answer. In the end, if the competitor was right, each member of the Mob who answered incorrectly was eliminated, and the overall "pot" grew, since the number of Mob members who would share the money if the player lost decreased. The idea was to keep going until you defeat everyone, but there were certain moments (right before you saw another question) that you could choose to take the money home instead of take on the mob again. If you've never seen the show, GSN offers full episodes for streaming.

Notable changes to the way the game is played: The way in which you figured out how much money could be won changed throughout the run of the game. There was also an interactive feature here and there that allowed for a home-viewer from a few time zones to win money as well. The "help" Trust the Mob wasn't on the earliest episodes, and Ask the Mob was eliminated eventually. The biggest change, however, is probably that on the NBC version, you could win up to $1M, whereas GSN's show only offers a possible $50k prize.

Special contestants: Many big-winners from other game shows have been part of the Mob before, like Ken Jennings (of Jeopardy! fame) and three million-dollar winners on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. Many other celebrities appeared in the Mob, though not so much as contestants: Todd Bridges, Fabio, and Adam West, for starters. There were also themed episodes, like Christmas-themed episode (which took hold through costumed Mob members and themed questions), a kids-only game, and several battle-of-the-sexes episodes (where, if the player was female, the Mob was all male or vice-versa).

Favorite Rounds: I really like it when lots of Mob members get the question wrong. Sometimes I think it happens when they don't think a question through (like with geography questions, they tend to choose "popular" cities/countries/landmarks rather than the correct ones), but other times it's just because they don't remember things from high school, especially in math and history fields. This tends to happen in the "middle" of the game, so-to-speak. The early questions tend to only take out a few people, and if you're not careful, too many people are gone through small numbers and you don't really get to witness a "key question" tear through the Mob.

My take: In order to be a strong competitor on this game, I'd need to study the strategy a bit more. Not that there's much more than answering questions, but I'm not sure how to utilize the "helps" to the best of my ability. But, I'd still like to play. I think it would be neat to beat so many contestants at once - most of the time game shows only pit you against a couple people. I do get nervous over multiple choice though... sometimes I prefer open-ended.

Are you a fan of 1 vs. 100? Do you have a preference between the original and the current version? Do you have a preference as to who might make up the mob if you were on it?
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