On Friday afternoon, I packed my Plinko board, my video camera, and a whole bunch of clothes into my car for an event I’d been waiting for all year: Game Show Congress 4. I’d gone the year before, and while I didn’t get much of a chance to commune with everyone, I did get to meet a whole bunch of people – some I’d seen online, some completely new faces – on top of seeing such big names in the genre like Betty White, Bob Stewart, Dick Clark, and yes, even Bob Barker. I even got to pitch one of my proposals to a panel of executives there (although it wasn’t for the official purpose of trying to get something sold – more for practice than anything else). So I’ve been looking forward to GSC4 since the last one ended.
After stopping by the Glendale Galleria to try out their dedicated ITG2 cabinet (and bumping into DDR community legend Tempest in the process), I went up to the Glendale Hilton and checked into my room. Turns out they bumped me up to a business suite – not a bad comp at all. After transporting what felt like 70 pounds of things into my room, I headed back down to the GSC4 reception. It was here that I met up with some familiar faces – Jason Hernandez, Ben Ziek, Joe Van Ginkel, Travis Schario, Gordon Pepper, and so on – as well as some people that I’d met online but never in person until now: Michael Klauss, Chico Alexander, Ryan Vickers, and Jason Block (who had attended last year but our paths never really crossed).
The night ended with a game of The Price is Right, and a few games of Match Game. I got to be a celebrity panelist in the last game, and an extremely interesting turn of events took place. Given the following question:
“Julie said, ‘My boss is a real jerk. Yesterday I helped him get promoted, and all he gave me was a _____.'”
Paul Paquet, one of the contestants gave the answer “Parking spot”, which was summarily booed. I was the last celebrity on the panel, and when it came time to reveal the answer I’d written, I said, “You know, Joe, I had a crushing fear that I was going to be the bland panelist that wasn’t going to be funny. So if that’s the way it’s gonna be, I might as well get the answer right – ‘Employee of the Month’ Parking Space!!’” Thus began a running joke that I probably ran into the ground towards the end of the Congress. In the Super Match, given the phrase “Bob _____” and being the third player chosen, I went with “Bob for Apples.” Paul went with Bob Barker, the obvious answer, but lo and behold it was nowhere to be found on the board. In fact, the only answer of the three offered that did make it was… Bobbing for Apples.
After getting our teams set up (myself, Paul, Robert Royko and Josh Guers made up the aptly-named team “The Parking Spaces”) and grabbing a quick bite to eat at In & Out with Ben, I fell into bed at about 1:45 in the morning, knowing fully well I had a long day of game playing ahead of me.
There were all sorts of games being offered in two rooms throughout the day, and here’s how I did on each:
Starcade: Went up against Jason Hernandez and kicked ass, thanks largely in part to my playing of the NES version of Gyruss. Went up against host Joe Van Ginkel in the bonus round and beat his score in only 13 seconds.
Whew!: Lost in a valiant effort. I won the first round as a blocker in the category of John Travolta, but lost the second round charging a board on Greek Mythology when I got the last blooper on Level 6 wrong and time ran out on me. I thought I had a great strategy as I blocked in the third round – practically blanketing the top two levels with blocks (L4: 30, 40, 50; L5: 20, 30; L6: 500) but Dave Pfeffer, my opponent, managed to dodge all but one of them (L4-40) and won without the need for a Longshot.
Sale of the Century: Finished in third place to Steve McClellan and Klauss. Those guys were just way too fast with the buzzer.
Super Password: Played twice – both with Paul as my partner – and lost twice. In the second game, I had the answer to the puzzle on the second word, but as clue-giver, I couldn’t guess it unless we held control until the end. Unfortunately, we lost it on the fourth word, and James Dinan got it for his team at the end. Still, it was cool the way everyone reacted when I nailed “Goblin” on the first clue of “Kobold”. I never thought Hydlide would come in handy.
Press Your Luck: Won my game, but it wasn’t easy. I was in the lead when Josh Guers passed eight spins to me. I got it down to four before I hit my first Whammy of the game. Still, I managed to tie for the lead with one spin left, and picked up $1000 + a spin on the next turn giving me the lead but one more spin to still contend with. Opting to play it, I implored the board, “For the love of God… STOP!!” And landed on Move One Space to $1000 + a spin or $750. Needless to say, I took the $750 to win the game.
Jackpot: the last game of the “regular season” saw our team on the bubble to get into the playoffs. Fortunately, yours truly had the last Jackpot wallet of the session. Thanks to David Legler’s correct answer, we backed into the postseason. Little did we know that we’d be playing against Legler’s team (which also contained fellow million-dollar winner Tim Hsieh) in the semifinals.
Countdown: We knew we were completely overmatched in this cerebral letter and number game. Still, we put up a fight. We tied on each of the letter rounds, but our downfall was the number rounds. Nobody on our team could get within 25 of the target number, and the other team was routinely getting one or two away from it. The game was called when we were mathematically eliminated (how’s that for irony?) with two more rounds to go.
When that was done, we headed into the main room to watch the final rounds of the tournament, which was composed of a melange of several different shows, all picked using a PYL-like randomizer. Lingo, Scrabble, Win Ben Stein’s Money, Match Game, Plinko, Chain Reaction, WWTBAM, even the Canadian show Definition was involved in the competition. Afterwards, Travis, Ben, Josh & I headed up to my room, got a pizza, and played another round of Buried Treasure. Ben once again pulled off the win, but this time failed to find more than one chest with treasure in it.
Sunday was the big day – not only was there an industry roundtable bringing back top executives like Jeff Mirkin and Bob Boden, along with Wheel of Fortune announcer Charlie O’Donnell, host Todd Newton, producer Ron Greenberg, and even the host of the Spanish game show Trato Hecho, Guillermo Huerca. I got in a question about what the “first step” is to getting an idea pitched, and Mirkin suggested pitching to either a production agency or directly to a network. When that was over, everyone quickly got seated for the day’s big event: the awards luncheon, where they would be honoring Tom Kennedy, Jack Narz, and Monty Hall for career achievement and community service. The awards presentation ran a bit long, which was made very clear by comedian Shelley Berman, who stole the show and had the entire room in hysterics. Also there was celebrity and frequent game show guest Pat Carroll, announcer John Harlan, and producer Stu Billett. It was phenomenal to be in the same room with all these big names. I even got to shake Kennedy and Narz’s hands, although I fear I may have come off as a blubbering fanboy to them. I also got my picture taken with Monty Hall (which you’ve probably seen by now).
After the luncheon, we all headed back up to Gordon’s room to take part in some more game playing. Gordon offered me some advice in the matter of where and how to pitch my shows, and we played yet another game of Buried Treasure, this time with Gordon going up against Jason Block. Jason won the game when Gordon couldn’t find the catch-up chest, and then won the bonus round with two seconds to spare and all but one chest opened. We partook in a very large pizza (28 inches, the same one we get at Ben’s poker night), and then I left at around 8:30. I was very obviously exhausted from the last 48 hours; as a matter of fact, I was pulled over about a mile away from the Main St. exit because I was apparently weaving in the lanes. Didn’t get a ticket though, thankfully.
GSC4 was an absolute joy. Between this and EAT4 last month, I haven’t enjoyed myself like this in a very long time. It was great seeing everyone – some for the first time, others probably for the last unless we meet up again before I move. You can be sure I’m looking forward to the next GSC.
And now, the pictures! (Pardon the crappy quality of some of them.)
The business suite room that I was given. My Plinko board – which unfortunately didn’t see much use – is in the background.
The other half of my room.
The first Match Game played on Friday night. From left: Gordon Pepper, Michael Klauss, Andrew Greenstein, Bill Schantz, Tom Gauer, Tim Hsieh
Your first game’s contestants: Matt Martin (in the whammy shirt) and Josh Guers (seated) Joe Van Ginkel hosted while Travis Schario ran the scoreboard.
Game #3’s panel. From left: Gordon, Jeff Suchard, Ed Toutant, Jason Block, David Whitley, Myself
Me showing my “Parking Space” answer.
Me getting to the top level of Whew! before fizzling out. Gordon hosted the game, Chico Alexander ran the computer.
Beat the Geeks host and fellow game show fan J. Keith van Straaten shaking hands with Paul Paquet after a hard-fought game.
A game of Sale of the Century in progress. From left: Dave Pfeffer, Ryan Vickers, Jeff Suchard
Game #2 of Sale of the Century. From left: Tim Hsieh, Bill Schantz, Jason Block
SotC host Joe Van Ginkel asks the next question.
Ben Ziek hosts a game of Remote Control. The contestants, from front to back: Josh Guers, David Legler, Chico Alexander
Another game of Remote Control. From front: Ben, Jason Block, Steve McClellan
Dr. Kevin Olmstead announcing the winner of GSC’s “Best New Game Show” award.
Balderdash host Elayne Boosler accepting the award for “Best Host of a New Game Show”.
Matt Ottinger accepting the GSC4 “Consolation Prize”, for the best performance by a non-winning contestant.
Former Concentration grand champion Ruth Horowitz being introduced to the crowd during a panel discussion on the show. Seated behind her, from left to right:
Producer Norm Blumenthal, creator Buddy Piper, producer Ron Greenberg, game show historian David Schwartz
Tim Hsieh delivering clues to David Legler during Super Password. Gordon Pepper hoste, Julie Suchard is holding the secret word.
Easily the highlight of Saturday’s gameplay was Press Your Luck. From left: Steve McClellan (board operator), Travis Schario (host), Matt Martin, Jason Block, John Corbett
PYL nut Jason Hernandez (left contestant) tries his luck against Tom Gauer and Tim Hsieh.
A shot of the PYL board during the Hernandez-Gauer-Hsieh game.
tvgameshows.net webmaster Steve Beverly giving his annual State of the Games speech. It was here that he announced that he would be stepping down from his webmaster position this coming Thanksgiving for health and family reasons.
Paul Paquet hosts his own “Smartypants” competition between several champions of the past. Sitting at the table, from left: Jeff Suchard, Steve (last name unavailable), Bob Harris, Jerome Vered
The second half of the “Smartypants” panel. From left: Andrew Greenstein, Tim Hsieh, Ed Toutant, Kevin Olmstead
The All-star competition at the conclusion of the game tournament. From left: James Dinan, Matt Martin, Ryan Vickers, Chico Alexander
Chico Alexander contends with the Wonderwall.
All-star game host Mike Burger calling and complaining to his question writer after losing a Win Ben Stein’s Money bonus round.
Bill Schantz drawing a picture for teammates Wayne Forrester, Lori Bailey, and Paul Bailey (not pictured)
The staff of Game Show News Net doing a live version of their “We Love to Interrupt” show. From left: Gordon Pepper, Jason Block, Joe Van Ginkel, Ryan Vickers, James Dinan
The industry roundtable panel. From left: Norm Blumenthal, Ron Greenberg, Charlie O’Donnell, Bob Boden, Jeff Mirkin, Laura Chambers, Guillermo Huerca, Todd Newton, Bo Durickovich
Unfortunately, all my luncheon pictures turned out bad. (Moreso than the ones above, even.)
Except this one, thank God.
The giant pizza we had to eat on the last night.