Training game shows can be very similar to the game shows that we see on TV: they use elements of competition, they engage both the audience and the players, they are exciting to host and watch, and they're easy to conduct and play. Most TV game shows can be replicated fairly faithfully in a training or event situation.
However, TV game shows aren't designed to be the most effective learning tools. In order to have a maximally successful training game show, you should modify several things:
1. Put Your Contestants in Teams. In TV game shows, most contestants are on their own (with the rare examples of phone-a-friend, or a family-style game show). This is fine for TV, but in a training situation you should put your contestants in teams. By putting contestants into teams, they can learn from their peers and share information. They collaborate and discuss your content, and winning isn't based on one unusually bright person--it's a group effort. Teams also create a safe space for shy contestants who might not want to speak up, but they leave nowhere to hide for a contestant that may want to "check out" of the learning process.
2. Be a Trainer. This one seems like a no-brainer, but it's important to remember that even though you're hosting a game show--you're also the trainer. On TV, the host does little more than read questions, supply funny quips, and display sympathy or enthusiasm for the contestants. As a trainer-host you need to be teaching while you're hosting. This means elaborating on questions, giving extra information, incorporating feedback, and modifying your training on the fly to make sure that everyone's "getting" the material.
3. Encourage Your Contestants. As much as you need to be a trainer while hosting, you also need to provide your trainees/contestants with positive feedback. Some TV hosts have been downright mean to losing contestants, or mock an incorrect answer. Naturally, this isn't the best strategy in a learning environment. If your trainees are behind in the scores, encourage them. Give them chances to catch up. Praise them for what they DO know. Explain things that they're not getting. The strongest focus of your game show should always be on learning the content at hand--not on who's winning and losing.
4. Change the Rules. TV game shows are structured in a very specific way. They need to have rules that are familiar, traditional, and ensure that the contestants and the casual viewing audience instantly know how to play the game. In your game, however, these rules may not work for your trainees or situation. You should modify the rules of your game show to fit your training perfectly.
For example, you may want your trainees to take turns instead of "ringing in" to answer a question. You may want to incorporate brainstorming questions, or multiple-player teams. You may even want to change how points are allotted or give extra-credit opportunities at your discretion. Is it necessary to answer in the form of a question in a Jeopardy-style game? Any rule changes, however, should be clearly explained before the game show begins.
5. Make Your Game Show Functional. TV game shows are entertaining, but it's a rare day when one walks away with anything but trivial knowledge after watching or playing a TV game show. Your game show should be primarily based around your content (unless, of course, you're using it as simply a fun ice-breaker/energizer, and you can always mix in fun related trivia with your content). Form should also follow function. Your game show doesn't have to have the glitz or production values of a TV game show to be fun, engaging, and effective. In fact, sometimes it's best to leave off all the TV game show extras (like prizes, fancy sets or costumes, etc.).
Bonus Tip: It's Your Game Show. Use it! Training game shows are tools for you. You can change them however you like to achieve your objectives and to get the maximum effect. There's nothing wrong with deviating radically from the TV game show you're modeling. There's no rule that says you can't make up your own rules. However, we do recommend specifically stating any rule changes before you start playing the game. There will always be trainees that assume the game show is going to run exactly like the one on TV-and it's up to you to clarify how YOUR game show will be played to avoid any game-stopping confusion.