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NTN/Buzztime/Trivbot

Postby Dactyl » Mon Jun 19, 2006 12:33 pm

Ken's thread regarding the viability of a national trivia tournament of some shape or form made me wonder how many people that come here ever play the interactive trivia game available in many restaurants and bars. It used to be called NTN, but I think they have chenged to Buzztime fairly recently. Whatever the case, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread and the renewal of Jeopardy, and I've been playing it for ten or eleven years now. Players can create an account (free) and then accumulate worthless 'status' points. These are similar to the marlboro Miles concept, but at least with the mileage there are some merchandise compensations going on. :wink: There are some very good players across the country and the competition between locations can sometimes be pretty fierce in a tame way. :wink:

Probably the most nerve-wrenching and adrenaline inducing game I have played was on the web. It was called Trivbot and I believe it was accessed through usernet and originated out of Austrilia. There were sets of 15 questions, but they were not multiple choice. You had to know the answer and type it in before anybody else. To make it more difficult, spelling counted. Good exercise for the old ticker.

Does anybody remember that, know if it is still available or play that game anymore? Of course, I am not so sure my heart could take it anymore. :lol: I'm probably much better off not knowing.
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Postby jcrmoon42 » Mon Jun 19, 2006 8:55 pm

I've been an NTNer since 1993 when I stumbled across it in Sam's Town in Las Vegas and have played pretty consistently since then. I don't drink. So, it is always fun for me to sit at a bar with a glass of tea. The drunks usually say that is why I beat them. I just nod and smile.

My fifteen and ten year old sons like to play as well, and my teenager does pretty darned well. It is kind of weird watching this affliction of mine become a family bonding activity.
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Re: NTN/Buzztime/Trivbot

Postby Ken Jennings » Tue Jun 20, 2006 8:59 am

I don't know Trivbot, but there's a section in Brainiac on Buzztime (aka NTN to old-timers), so I spent some time last year playing the game/intervewing the hardcore NTNers.

Buzztime doesn't get much attention, but it's huge. I've been talking with them on and off about doing some kind of cross-promotional project together, and the data they sent me claims that they have 12,000 screens, 1 million daily "viewers," and 16.5 million annual "players." Obviously there's some wiggle room in those definitions, but it sounds like they have a pretty good claim to be the world's most-played quiz game.

Talking to the hardcore NTN players was interesting, since they're not just your average viewer, perched on a barstool with a beer, casually playing along. The real fans congregate by the dozens and play as teams, competing with other elite bars on the nationwide rankings, and use elaborate strategies for team play. One bar I talked to in DC actually looks for local faces on Jeopardy! and Millionaire, so they can look them up in the phone book and recruit them onto their NTN team.
Last edited by Ken Jennings on Tue Jun 20, 2006 9:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby cosmo2006 » Tue Jun 20, 2006 9:49 am

I had never heard of NTN until I went to GSC8 in 1998 (GSC is Game Show Convention....not to be confused with Game Show Congress, a much BIGGER event for game show fans....Game Show Convention is just fans getting together to watch videos and play games). I was instantly taken with it, and when I arrived home I was quite disappointed to learn that the nearest place to play was about a half-hour away. :(

I live in a more urban area now (New Cumberland...It's right outside Harrisburg PA), and there is even a place in town to play. ..While I haven't gotten there yet, I do love playing it and there are tons of places around. I look forward to playing a TV Trivia one again someday!
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Postby BryceI » Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:01 pm

an online acquaintance of mine told me that song (discount carrier owned by Delta) has in-flight trivia. There are touch(?) screens in front of every seat, so everyone can play along.

That would make a trip go by pretty quickly, methinks.
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Postby Ken Jennings » Wed Jun 21, 2006 11:13 am

BryceI wrote:an online acquaintance of mine told me that song (discount carrier owned by Delta) has in-flight trivia. There are touch(?) screens in front of every seat, so everyone can play along.

That would make a trip go by pretty quickly, methinks.


I flew Song once...the music trivia games are pretty fun.

Best of all, you play against the other passengers, and the system tells you the seat numbers of your competition, so you can crane your neck to glare at them or see if they're stumped on a tough question.

But isn't Song going (or gone?) out of business now?
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Postby jcrmoon42 » Sat Jun 24, 2006 10:00 pm

I invited Brad Rutter to come play NTN with me here in Lancaster, PA, but he declined. He felt like there was nothing in it for him, because people looked at him as a trivia target of sorts. I suppose I understand, but it seems like this stuff should still be for fun even if you have become a "professional" at it. I'm curious how you feel about things like that, Ken.
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Postby Ken Jennings » Sun Jun 25, 2006 3:04 pm

jcrmoon42 wrote:I invited Brad Rutter to come play NTN with me here in Lancaster, PA, but he declined. He felt like there was nothing in it for him, because people looked at him as a trivia target of sorts. I suppose I understand, but it seems like this stuff should still be for fun even if you have become a "professional" at it. I'm curious how you feel about things like that, Ken.


Have you seen the Twilight Zone where the neighborhood pool hustler finally beats the top-ranked hotshot player, only to learn he has to spend eternity facing off against every two-bit player who now wants to challenge him to a game? Or, alternately, the other Twilight Zone where the gimmick is identical but it's a gunfighter instead of a pool player?

Brad's right. It makes it hard to play trivia in public (at least without a series of clever disguises, as documented in Brainiac).
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Postby TheConfessor » Mon Jun 26, 2006 2:06 am

Ken Jennings wrote:
jcrmoon42 wrote:I invited Brad Rutter to come play NTN with me here in Lancaster, PA, but he declined. He felt like there was nothing in it for him, because people looked at him as a trivia target of sorts. I suppose I understand, but it seems like this stuff should still be for fun even if you have become a "professional" at it. I'm curious how you feel about things like that, Ken.


Have you seen the Twilight Zone where the neighborhood pool hustler finally beats the top-ranked hotshot player, only to learn he has to spend eternity facing off against every two-bit player who now wants to challenge him to a game? Or, alternately, the other Twilight Zone where the gimmick is identical but it's a gunfighter instead of a pool player?

Brad's right. It makes it hard to play trivia in public (at least without a series of clever disguises, as documented in Brainiac).


It seems to me that anyone who enjoyed playing trivia prior to being on a game show should still find it enjoyable after having success and winning some money. At least that's way I approach it. I play in two different team pub quizzes at local Irish pubs. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, but I just look at it as an opportunity to hang out with friends and meet other interesting people. I don't feel that my self worth is at stake every time I get into a friendly competition. It's unfortunate if a person can't even play a little NTN trivia without worrying about what other people will think about him. Maybe someone would occasionally get lucky and beat Brad, but so what? Let 'em have a thrill! For a while, the Dixie Chicks and their husbands were regulars at my Tuesday trivia night at Mother Egan's Irish Pub. No one bothered them, and I doubt that many people would bother Brad. I've played NTN trivia in public with Kevin Olmstead and Nancy Christy, and no one bothered us. I realize that Ken is far better known than any other game show contestant, but if he ever drops by Mother Egan's on a Tuesday night, he's welcome to play on my team and I'm sure he'd have fun and people would be respectful.

Ken, don't your typical public appearances include a segment where you face off against "every two-bit player" who wants to challenge you? And don't they occasionally stump you on a question? And don't you still sleep well at night, despite putting yourself into that situation? Would you ever want to be a contestant on another game show? Did you ever consider trying to get on WWTBAM? I guess your business relationship with Michael Davies probably makes you ineligible now, but what about 1 versus 100 or some other show? Or would the (reward + fun)/risk ratio be too low to interest you?
Last edited by TheConfessor on Wed Jun 28, 2006 12:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Ken Jennings » Mon Jun 26, 2006 2:31 pm

TheConfessor wrote:It seems to me that anyone who enjoyed playing trivia prior to being on a game show should still find it enjoyable after having success and winning some money.


I'm sure that's true. But I was never really a trivia exhibitionist before I went on TV either...I guess I played trivia board games with friends, and college quiz bowl, but those aren't really public pursuits. If I had a pub trivia or NTN team I played with regularly, I'm sure I'd keep that up. But showing up at somebody else's trivia night, with all the expectations that might entail? No thanks. It's odd, but I have to admit I don't have much of a competitive trivia jones anymore. Maybe 75 straight games of Jeopardy are pretty good aversion therapy.

But never mind all that...how were the Dixie Chicks at pub trivia?
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Postby JayLewis » Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:15 pm

Ken Jennings wrote: But showing up at somebody else's trivia night, with all the expectations that might entail? No thanks.


So...is that implying that (some) triva-meisters have fragile egos? That the thought/pressure of losing to Joe Schmoe is too much to bear? (Obvioulsy, the other expectation is that the trivia guru is going to come in and wipe the floor with everyone.)

Not passing judgement...just asking.
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Postby Ken Jennings » Mon Jun 26, 2006 9:10 pm

JayLewis wrote:So...is that implying that (some) triva-meisters have fragile egos?


Yeah, anyone who knows anything about me knows I'm all about ego.

In my case, it just has more to do with privacy. If I showed up for NTN some night, there's clearly the potential for it to be no-win. I could see myself feeling a little embarrassed whether I did well or not. Some people, as they go about their daily lives, just don't want to be on display.

I point you back to the more relevant stuff you didn't quote: I've never really played public quiz games, and have even less desire to now.
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Postby JayLewis » Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:35 am

Ken Jennings wrote:Yeah, anyone who knows anything about me knows I'm all about ego.

In my case, it just has more to do with privacy. If I showed up for NTN some night, there's clearly the potential for it to be no-win. I could see myself feeling a little embarrassed whether I did well or not. Some people, as they go about their daily lives, just don't want to be on display.

I point you back to the more relevant stuff you didn't quote: I've never really played public quiz games, and have even less desire to now.


While I didn't mean you specifically, I see your point.

To bring things back on topic, I just noticed that Bell ExpressVu owners (Canadians only) have Buzztime Trivia available in-home. Channel 550 if you're a subscriber.

Here I thought it was a bar/pub thing only.
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Postby AndySaunders » Tue Jun 27, 2006 1:22 pm

...And, of course, my parents have StarChoice.

Typical.

:)
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Postby Ken Jennings » Tue Jun 27, 2006 4:00 pm

JayLewis wrote:To bring things back on topic, I just noticed that Bell ExpressVu owners (Canadians only) have Buzztime Trivia available in-home. Channel 550 if you're a subscriber.

Here I thought it was a bar/pub thing only.


Whoa, I didn't know that either. Any US providers carry it?
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Postby JayLewis » Tue Jun 27, 2006 6:43 pm

Ken Jennings wrote:
JayLewis wrote:To bring things back on topic, I just noticed that Bell ExpressVu owners (Canadians only) have Buzztime Trivia available in-home. Channel 550 if you're a subscriber.


Whoa, I didn't know that either. Any US providers carry it?


Their site http://www.buzztime.com/platforms/satellite/index.htm says DISH network carries it (ch100 $3.99/mo)
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Postby TheConfessor » Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:55 pm

Ken Jennings wrote:
It's odd, but I have to admit I don't have much of a competitive trivia jones anymore. Maybe 75 straight games of Jeopardy are pretty good aversion therapy.


So is that your explanation for the outcome of games 76, 77, and 78? Just kidding -- you were great! I wish my wins were half as impressive as your losses!

Ken Jennings wrote:
But never mind all that...how were the Dixie Chicks at pub trivia?


As I recall, the Dixie Chicks had a pretty good trivia team. They didn't actually play under that name (see below). They never were strong enough to win, but they usually finished in the top half of the 40 to 50 teams that played each week. This was back in late 2002 and early 2003, before People magazine outed them as trivia players in the 2/3/03 issue, and before the Chicks started getting death threats and having babies. Some combination of those factors apparently caused them to stop playing, but I hope their circumstances will allow them to return at some point. They would certainly be very welcome.

One observation I've had about pub quizzes and most similar competitions is that probably at least 80% of the teams know in advance that they are not good enough to win, but they keep coming back every week anyway. Few, if any of the teams are primarily motivated by winning (in this case, fifty bucks worth of food and drink to the top team), or they set their own team standards for what they consider a successful evening. So although there's only one winner, even the weakest teams must be having fun or they wouldn't be there. My best and worst experiences in trivia have rarely had anything to do with winning or losing.

At tonight's pub quiz, I was approached by a very clueless stranger who wanted an on-the-spot tutorial about how he can get on WWTBAM and win a bundle of money. He didn't even know the fundamental rules of the game, so I told him the first step would be to actually watch a few episodes and see what it takes to win. He thought the show uses a 30 second clock for each question and that the contestant must lock in the answer by pressing a button. He said he is really good at trivia and asked me what he should study, how much tax the show will take from his million dollar winnings, etc. I found it fairly amusing, but if stuff like that happened to me all the time (as it probably does to Ken), I suppose I'd be more inclined to avoid such situations.

Here is a passage I found on the web about the Dixie Chicks' trivia proclivities. There is no attribution, but I think it's from the 2/3/03 cover story in People.

Three chicks go into a bar. Seriously. "We go to trivia night," Dixie Chick Natalie Maines explains. "They call out questions, and every table is a team." "Don't say our team name," blurts a mortified Maguire, sipping a glass of red wine in an Austin restaurant. "We're going to lose fans." "The name of our team is Kenny Chesney Stuffs His Pants with a Pimento Cheese Sandwich" "Isn't that a great trivia name? They say it every single round! They'll go, 'Kenny Chesney Stuffs His Pants with a Pimento Cheese Sandwich, 23 points!' And everyone laughs." (Chesney, for the record, takes the ribbing in stride. "They said what?" he asks, cracking up at his former tour mates' gag. " 'Least they're lookin'.")
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Postby BUD » Thu Jun 29, 2006 12:05 pm

Hello Ken,

Very nice site so far. I'm sure there is much more to come. Looking forward to the book and signing tour when you come through DC.

I'm BUD from badbart and buzztime forums. I helped you with the never ending "Is it really you" skeptics and mentioned The Puck as a local SLC site. I never did get around to sending you some good stories for your book.

To answer about US in-home NTN/Buzztime platforms: There are a handfull of cable systems that have Buzztime mostly in PA,MD,VA and ME. This small number should increase soon as the cable companies(comcast,Time-warner) get on board with the proper technology. Looks like a good place to run a spot for your book. :) There is a section on it on the Buzztime website.

There also is a version on Dish Network available nationwide but the players are playing "in house" only not against all players across all systems as is the case with the cable version. However, I think they already have a large number of subscribers,more than cable.

Also Buzztime can be down loaded to cell phones,not sure how that is set up.

Still looking for KEBERT to show up on the Buzztime boards. :) However, I understand the no win situation of trying to play.
Hope you change your mind.

BUD - playing NTN/Buzztime at Hardtimes Germantown MD
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