The Party Game Show

Cameron here.

It’s been a month now since we ran our “Party Game Show” with much success. It took all of us by surprise by how amazingly fun it was and yet so simple to put together (relatively). It’s one of the few events we have that does not involve snacks, drinks, high level of set up or decorations. So it was immediately apparent to everyone involved that it was indeed a winner and that it will become one of Petrie’s reoccurring events.

It took me a while to blog about it simply because there were a few things that I needed to think through. In hindsight, the glitches that occurred were minor and easily solvable. I want to go over the thoughts and advice on how to better the rules so that the next time we run this event, everyone is clear on the rules.

For a full run down of the Party Game Show rules, you can read them here, or follow the link through our Toy Box.

1. The challenges were puzzles that appeared in between each round of questions. The challenges were introduced to give a little spice and potentially act as a tie breaker. One of the challenges was pre-determined to be a Rubik’s cube. All the judges and myself believed this to be so amazingly difficult that we should perhaps only ‘curse’ one team with losing a player potentially for the rest of the game as they solved the cube. It was also thought that we should give 5 points per completed side.  And IF the person somehow actually completed the thing, they could get a bonus of 50 points total.

What I didn’t expect was that the person who got cursed with the activity solved it not more than 10 minutes after they started. The 50 points they got took them from last place to first and was not the only reason this team won (for they did after all do a good job with the questions too) but without this challenge they would have had a firm second place.

Second, one team was very disappointed not to be able to race in solving the Rubik challenge. They weren’t upset about the points so much as the loss of the opportunity.

LESSON LEARNED #1: All teams get an equal opportunity to participate in all challenges.

LESSON LEARNED #2: No matter how challenging they may appear to the host and judges, no challenge will net more than 30 points maximum.

2. I have to admit I’ve been playing Euro-Strategy games too much in the past year. These are the games that get teased about being kinder and gentler games. Usually players end the game only a few points apart from one another and there are multiple conditions for breaking ties. Most of these games have balancing rules in them so no one player runs away with the victory, no matter how well deserved it may be.

In the Party Game Show we have a segment that is similar to “Let’s Make a Deal” where a team gets to choose a box and then either keep the prize or pass for another choice. On the fly it made sense to give the team in last place the first choice. The problem with this was that this team later took the lead and the grand prize. So they got the Let’s Make a Deal prizes and the final prize, while the team that held the lead for most of the game, got very little in the way of take home prizes.

LESSON LEARNED #3: Reward the team in the lead after every round. This may be with a one time prize or with the first choice of the Let’s Make a Deal boxes. Give teams incentive to work hard all 4 rounds.

3. The third issue is the one I’ve had the most struggle in fixing. The board of categories is a giant Jeopardy board where all the categories are in a grid. A team gets to choose a category. The team that chooses next has to choose a category next to, horizontal or vertical. This mode of play was decided upon so no team would purposefully play the same category over and over. It was also a way to introduce a little bit of strategy into the game so that teams may choose a slightly less favorite category in order to give the next team a less than ideal choice. However, many categories were never played (the opposite effect than what was intended) and many teams felt disappointed by not being able to ever choose their favorites.

LESSON LEARNED #4: The play style of the board will remain the same, however, ’round robin’ will be introduced so that teams don’t get stuck in a corner. Also, every team will be provided with one ‘Golden Ticket’ token that will allow them to choose any category anywhere on the board, but it can only be used once for the entire game. This will not guarantee that every category will be played but it will help most of the favorites to be played.

The first challenge was the one challenge we were sure would be easy enough to complete. It was a small plastic 3-d puzzle apple. The shape was simple and it had a repeating pattern in it. However, observation and actually doing it are two different things. The three players that got assigned to this challenge were out of the game for more than two full rounds and it was a miserable experience for a couple of them.

LESSON LEARNED #5: Time limits, choice of backing out of challenges for less penalty, and testing the challenges ahead of time are all necessary. It could also be made so that a puzzle does not need to be completed but rather the person who has the most pieces in place by the time limit, wins the challenge.

Other things that came up:

• Encore is very difficult to do in a setting like that. It also is open for interpretation on many accounts. If we include it again we will do it in hot potato format and limit the amount of times it appears on the board.

• Many other games exist out there and categories will come and go to keep things alive.

• The challenges will also change but will get categorized so teams will have a general idea of what they may be up against.

• While it wasn’t an issue, it should be stated in the rules that no outside devices, electronics, or help from the audience will be tolerated. Players can be removed from the game for obvious signs of cheating.

• After reports of this event came out, many people came forward interested in when we would run the event again. Because of this, we will run multiple events of teams of three rather than trying to run it with teams of four as we originally did. The space necessary to run the even comfortably needs to remain at three teams max.

You can see photos of the event here.


  • Cameron, nice write up and it’s great that there were lessons learned from the first “Party Game Show”. However, as a contestant and member of the team which went from 2nd to 3rd place, I want to say that with all things considered, the event was awesome and I felt pretty fairly balanced.

    The player of the team which was in 3rd place was selected by his teammates prior to the Rubik’s cube challenge being announced, so it was really a coincidence that he actually solves Rubik’s cubes in his spare time.

    I know working so closely with the event’s structure, scoring and rules of the games, you might see room for improvement and places where things happened you might have not expected, but removed slightly from this as a contestant, I really saw things go pretty flawlessly. I’m always really impressed by Petrie’s events; they have a lot of “class”.

    Having some recent experience running trivia games, I know there are a TON of fun party/trivia games available. We played a good selection of games, but I would have liked to have some additional choices and been able to chose more categories I do better in. I tend to be better in random trivia and book knowledge and far less knowledgeable in trendy stuff and music; everyone has their preferences. So there’s some titles I’m hoping will show up in the next game, as well as I hope we get a chance to see Dixit in action.

    I’m glad to know the “Party Game Show” will become an at least bi-yearly event at Petrie’s and I’m looking forward to the next game of it.

  • Well all this talk gets me excited about the next one! I have a couple ideas for challenges if you are still in need of some. Other than that I look forward to helping out in any way you need.