Posted April 6, 2016

All the buzz! Tips for creating an engaging game show company event

The Blinds.com team loves to celebrate – one of our most anticipated celebrations is around our annual contact center awards show. It’s a fun night of camaraderie and creative award presentations, designed to bring us closer together and collectively ‘woo hoo-ing’ our top performers in both core values and traditional business metrics.

But, this year, we wanted to treat our team to something different. Less awards show and more experiential. What better way to rally around our company history and core values than with a customized game show night!

We had a blast testing our product and Blinds.com history knowledge at the CEC Game Night. #blindsdotcomlife

A video posted by Blinds.com (@blindsdotcom) on

Game show technology for your company event

Technology is important, but why reinvent the wheel when you can discover great solutions on the Web to make your own!  In order to support an interactive company game show, we knew what we had to do:

Step 1:  Select your game show format

Our hope for this event was for it to be all our very own. What that meant to us was building our own game show and not modeling it off of other famous shows that others may have been familiar with. We leaned heavily on a resident game show guru Joshua who constructed a rule construct, point structure and who also had a huge hand in vetting the questions that were gathered by our event team. The game started off with a huge throw down face-off round where the winner of that round went directly to finals.  The biggest challenge of doing our own game theme was that no one had see this game before, one lesson that we learned, it’s easier to get buy in from a crowd when they know what to expect and what they are getting into. Had it to do over again, I think that we would have structured our game after a famous game show.

Ultimately, we needed a system to allow for two contestants to go head to head and buzz in to see who would answer the given question as well as display the results of the rounds of scoring.

Step 2:  Discover your game show technology solutions and hacks

I pride myself on being someone who thinks along the edges of the box looking for ways to connect technologies that were never intended to talk to each other, and especially connect or work with each other. Being on the edges of technologies requires me to exist in some unorthodox circles. I keep track of what chip manufactures are producing and what electrical engineering blogs are excited about as they are about a 8 month preview of what major manufacturing will be doing. I keep tabs on design trends in Asia and France specifically as designers tend to draw influences there first. I track ways in which display technologies are used in spaces of worship, and started my career in religious media production. One of the Facebook groups which I contribute is a group for visual media for churches and this group was a huge influence in the design of this project.

After about an hour of searching through the group post I found a video that came out from a company called Crowd Control Games, they specialize in building amazing video applications that allow engaging experiences that are typically used in church youth meetings to break the ice and get people interacting. Not only did they have lot of the mechanics of displaying score and keeping time, they also had a number of tips and how-to videos on building a buzzer system.

Technical Details and Items used to make this work:
Makey Makey – Standard (from Spark Fun)
Crowd Control Games – GameShow Buzzer – There’s a great video that covers how to build this solution and is what we used as a guide.

Step 3:  Build your game show tech, it’s fun!

BigRedButtons

While I love to geek out and build things my new role inside of the marketing team at Blinds.com has required me to take a much more strategic approach to the work that I do. Finding that it not always the work YOU do, but the opportunities that you allow others to step up and take ownership of. This year, I tapped into the IT team and sought out the help of Buddy who had experience with Arduino projects and tweaked the script that the prototyping board used so that the LEDs inside of the buttons would emulate the program that displayed the video.  What this meant for the contestants was a visual feedback to know that that got the buzzer.

I also want to give a huge shout out to Stephen who is a skilled carpenter and maker. His design in fitting the button inside of an enclosed case which would not move on the podium; gave life to this project and will allow these to be used by our skills department. The game show was a huge hit the night of the award show, and the technology while simple and elegant worked so well that it was invisible!

Step 4:  Test it, baby

TestTestTest

Stress testing a new build can be one of the most daunting tasks when it comes to building and then using technology projects like this. This is a project that came together in the night and weekends of many of the players involved but will be used in a very public setting, and we want to make sure that the experience of the crowd is one of enjoyment and fun – not frustration. The night before our annual award show I setup all of the parts and knocked it around to make sure that all of the systems were working.  The photo above shows the buttons in place, a 27″ LCD monitor for the crowd to see who would get the question and the small monitor is a duplicate display which was hung inside of podium (upside down) so that our game show host could see who hit the buzzer first.

Step 5:  Play like it’s going out of style

 

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The one issue that we had the night of, was my security setting causing the screen saver to come up and forcing me to log back in to my machine each time. While a mandatory and very worth while feature from our IT staff – it kept me on my toes.  Other than that our Annual CEC Award & Game Night was a huge success and was a great time had by all that attended.

Want to see more of our Blinds.com game show awards show fun?  Check out our photo album here – and peek at our Blinds.com careers page for job opportunities.  Who knows, you just might be a winner at our next awards show!