What do “Bachelor Pad” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” have in common? For once thing, both called recently to see if I was available to produce challenges and games for them over the summer. And while normally I like taking TV work - well, clarification, I like getting paid TV money - there is TOO MUCH going on at Wise Guys for me to check out for a few weeks. That’s a pretty good feeling.
How much is too much? If you asked me a couple weeks ago what I had going on, I would have said to you: “We’re preparing a cell phone scavenger hunt for a professional group of women who work in construction; an Olympics themed game for high school kids attending DeVry; and a team building game for the librarians of the city of Pasadena.” In fact, I know that’s what I would have said to you, because I said it to a bunch of people in the last few weeks, and even that only describes the first half of the month.
Now that all those games are through, if you want to read about how they went, click below the jump.
We played Clockwise, our cell phone scavenger hunt, for the first time in Newport Beach’s Balboa Fun Zone - the inspiration, so I’m told, for the banana stand from “Arrested Development.” The client was a group of women in the construction business, and they were a great group: bright, spirited, and feisty.
This game went really smoothly so there isn’t much to report. Only two details stand out. Firstly, every neighborhood in which you scout a game is different, and the Balboa Fun Zone was full of people who were really, really friendly. Friendly and laid back. Everyone who we asked if we could put a clue on their store said, “Okay” and when I said I’d call the day before the game to remind them, they said, “You can if you want, but it’s fine. I’ll just be here.”
Secondly, the challenge that Clocky presents the teams involves performing a stunt and getting as many people involved as possible. One team engaged this challenge while in a park where two young moms were relaxing with their infants. “Let’s get the babies to do it!” the team cried, so I in my giant clock head costume accompanied the women who accosted the mothers and asked to include the babies in their shenanigans. As chance would have it, this particular team had just an hour before picked their team name and, no joke, it was “Stealing Babies.” I’m happy to say they did not live up to their reputation.
How do I know this took place? As a small business owner, I wear many hats and one of them is a giant clock-shaped headpiece with eyeholes, so I get to play with our clients personally.
The next morning we got up very early to prepare the Olympics-themed game in the parking lot of DeVry’s Pomona campus. This was a new game with mostly new material, including a number of games, such as the rubber-ducks-and-fuzzy-dice relay race that had never been tested, exactly, per se, in so many words. I mean, Greg and I tested them, and that was hilarious in its own way. I wish I had video. But many of the events were untried, though we also had some proven winners, such as Dot Racing (neé Twistianapolis 500).
This game went off without a hitch, though there was one big change-up: we’d prepared a game for eight teams of 5 students each, and instead we had two. That’s right: 10 students down from 40. Whether it was because of prom weekend, Cinco de Mayo, or each student’s own individual situation, for whatever reason, we had a 75% drop off in projected attendance. But just like I learned in my theater background, we turned a negative into a positive and had a day-long showdown between Brazil and Argentina. We had hired more staff than we needed to pull off all the games, so our personnel became the cheering section for the players, and we were able to give extra personal attention to our two teams. They started out a bit skeptical - isn’t that just like young people today? - but by the time we got to the second or third event, they were really throwing themselves into it, and we had a very fruitful debrief session after the game was over. For a day that began with so much uncertainty about how it would go, it was a big triumph once we made the decision not to let the unexpectedly low turnout get us down.
After a couple days’ rest we played with the librarians of Pasadena. They are not as quiet as you might think! This gig came about when we got a call from someone on the planning committee for the daylong program. She told us morale was low, there had been layoffs, and at last year’s event, everyone wanted to go home after lunch so they were looking for something that would pep up the participants and make them glad they’d come.
Greg and I were happy to take the gig, as we are both lifelong library members and supporters of the library system. And besides over the course of our lives we’ve paid tens of dollars in fines, so of course we seized on the opportunity to get some of that money back. (Kidding.) The game we selected was Play Stations, because it works so well in a park. The teams were funny, organized, and smart: I frequently had a hard time keeping up with them while facilitating my challenge.
Two big take-aways from this game: one, there was a woman I’ll call Kay who, I think, based on some cues I picked up, may have been developmentally disabled. Due to an actor we had booked on this game who got in a car crash an hour before we were scheduled to begin, I stepped in to host the game Chairman Cow, one of the challenges players tackle during a round of Play Stations. It’s a fast-paced game of quick listening and reaction, where I point at you and say 1 of 2 words and you must say the other and do a corresponding gesture. Usually it’s played with 2 teams and I eliminate players who make mistakes until one whole team has been knocked out and the other team is the winner. But as the game was drawing near a close, I had 4 teams playing this game at once, including Kay’s team. I knocked players out left and right but Kay stayed in all the way to the end and ultimately was the winner of the entire game.
When we debrief Play Stations, I like to start by giving team members the opportunity to brag about someone else on their team. It usually gets the ball rolling, and who doesn’t like to pay or receive a compliment? The very first brag I got was from a member of Kay’s team who complimented on her triumphing over everyone else in the game of Chairman Cow, and she got a huge round of applause. It just goes to prove what I tell all the teams at the beginning of every game: you simply never know which member of your team will lead you to your next great victory.
And for the last word on this game and in this blog post, I’ll turn it over to the client:
I’ve heard nothing but wonderful comments about Staff Development Day – the term “the best ever” comes up frequently. I talked to others on the task force, and we were all very pleased with the whole day – especially the games in the park. Having it out of doors was a great idea. I heard grumbling about it beforehand, and nothing but praise afterwards. Thank you for making our day a huge success!