In The Form Of A Question: Jeopardy! World Tour For iPhone
This entry is about my gaming experience with Jeopardy! World Tour for iPhone. In order to enhance the depth of my gaming analyses, I decided to select a game with more interactive characteristics such as competition with other players and a broader range of skill development (i.e. something more complex than completing a crossword puzzle). I have always been an avid fan of Jeopardy and (to the chagrin of my company) take pride in my vast amount of seemingly trivial knowledge. Despite my broad exposure to Jeopardy, I am approaching this game with the expectation that the “in-game” features of the software and the “in-room” context surrounding my play (Stevens et al, 2008) will make for a much different experience than Jeopardy on television. By accounting for these aspects of my gaming experience, I will evaluate the quality of Jeopardy! World Tour based on my level of engagement as a player.
After my previous experiences with NYT Crossword, I decided to seek out another game based on another interest of mine. As someone who rarely plays video games, I decided to use my iPhone again and search for a suitable topic. My recent viewings of Jeopardy on television reignited my passion for the show and inspired me to seek out a Jeopardy game app. After grabbing my iPhone and entering my passcode, I clicked on the App Store icon and selected the “search” feature at the bottom of the screen. After typing in “Jeopardy” on the digital keyboard, I scrolled through the results and selected Jeopardy! World Tour from the top of the list. After downloading and installing the game, I clicked on the icon to start.
As a popular game TV show with many devoted fans, Jeopardy has rules that are commonly understood my many. In order to understand Jeopardy! World Tour, however, it is important to understand how its rules depart from the popular television series. Each Jeopardy episode consists of three contestants who are tasked with answering trivia questions in six categories for two rounds followed by a “final” round. Each trivia category has value squares ranging from 200-1000 in value with difficulty increasing in proportion to dollar amount. After two rounds of these questions with varying levels of difficulty, the contestants participate in a final round in which there is only one question from a specific category. The participants must write their answers down along with an amount they wager. In the end, the victory goes to the contestant with the highest score.
I began my playing experience in order to find out how the rules and gameplay compared to the experience as depicted on television. As soon as I opened the app, I encountered a pop-up and was prompted to create a profile. I selected the option to connect through Facebook, authorized the app to access my information, and logged in. Another pop-up welcomed me to the game and asked if I wanted a tour of the features. I selected “Yes” and discovered that my previous expectations of an entirely different game were correct.
All players are given a bank account to be used to join different games. At the outset, I had 30 thousand dollars in my account. The main component of the game is the “Journey” mode in which participants travel to different cities beginning with Los Angeles. Other modes of the game include “Friend Challenges” (allowing players to compete against their friends using the app), “Brain Trust” (a competitive mode reserved for experienced players with high “XP” points obtained from multiple consecutive victories), and tournaments (additional competitions). Furthermore, each player has the opportunity to purchase “Power Ups” that allow one to take an extended amount of time on a particular question, change a particular category, take a “mulligan”, and get double points. Clearly, this app was very different from the game as seen on TV. Despite years of watching Jeopardy and shouting out answers at the TV in an irritating way, I was a newbie and would require several days/weeks of playtime in order to master Jeopardy! World Tour.
I started on the “Journey” mode and began my experience in Los Angeles. The cost was 5 thousand which I hastily took from my account in the game. I then encountered my competitors (Joanna and Greg) and was given the option to purchase power ups. I decided to purchase an extended time option (one use only) and began round one. The 3 categories were Hollywood Quotes, Sports & Religion, and The Bible (with 200, 400, and 600 options). I selected Hollywood Quotes for 600 and discovered the “Daily Double”. I wagered 300 and encountered a quote by Christopher Plummer about a certain actress. The answer I picked was “Julie Andrews” and I was correct. I then selected Sports & Religion for 600. The question was about a former pro-football player who became a minister. None of the multiple-choice options rang a bell and my selection (at random) was incorrect. I selected The Bible for 600 and was asked a question about Jacob’s employer (Laban) and won 600. The gameplay continued for the remainder of the round (and the next) and I was in last place. Unable to continue to the following round, I exited the game with a consolatory message about how I didn’t make it to the final round.
My gameplay experience (totaling approximately half an hour) was very daunting and not especially rewarding. I have been taught to embrace failure as a learning opportunity, but felt like I did not have an especially positive experience. The reasons behind my disappointment stem from the ways in which this game differed from the popular game show. Not that I minded being free from having to answer in the form of a question, but I struggled with so many different nuances. Firstly, potential answers to each question are presented along with the question. This rendered the game to be an exercise in multiple choice testing (like standardized tests) in which participants could potentially “luck out” by guessing. The various power-ups made gameplay confusing and constructed a relatively high learning curve. Most of all irritants, however, was the cost associated with all aspects of the game. After finishing your funds, you have to buy more “money” to continue playing. If you want power-ups, those cost moneys too. Although you win money by finishing in first in the competitions, there is virtually no way to improve one’s skillset without shelling out money.
As an advocate of accessible gameplay, I feel strongly about open participation. The construction of this game makes it overly dependent on a participant willing to continuously pay for their experience. The difficult aspects of this game show that play would be improved with the aid of a “nurturing affinity space” in which potential players could develop their skills with the aid of others (Gee & Hayes, 2012 p. 1-3). I will not be playing again.
Gee, J. P., & Hayes, E. (2012). Nurturing affinity spaces and game-based learning. In Games, Learning, and Society: Learning and Meaning in the Digital Age (pp. 129-153). Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139031127.015
Stevens, R., Satwicz, T., & McCarthy, L. (2008). In-game, in-room, in-world: Reconnecting video game play to the rest of kids’ lives. The ecology of games: Connecting youth, games, and learning, 9, 41-66.