While the trainer can fulfill the role of a judge, there are several advantages to using a separate judge in your game show. Having a separate, impartial judge can be your extra set of eyes, and allows you to focus on the training at hand instead of the game show particulars. These judges can be special guests, your co-workers, fellow trainers, "graduated" trainees, or even trainees that are particularly knowledgeable or have missed a few sessions (thus being too far out of the loop to play the game show).
1. Judges Can Handle Rule Infractions. We've found that trainees can, on occasion, be swept away in the tide of game show competition. While you want enthusiastic trainees, there is a point where enthusiasm can go too far and rules can fall by the wayside. A separate judge can enforce the rules, maintain the noise level, and curb any "cheating" that might occur. This way, order is maintained and you don't have to be the "bad guy."
2. Judges Can Determine Who Rang in First. If you're not using buzzer systems then there will undoubtedly be some confusion as to which team rang in first to answer a question. It can be tough to host the game and pay attention to who raised their hand a millisecond faster than another player, which noisemaker sounded first in a room full of noisemakers, or who put their x in a virtual meeting chatbox. While some trainers have chosen to have teams take turns in lieu of ringing in, the "ring-in" is part of the fun of a game show competition! Here's where the judges come in. They can keep a careful eye on which team raises their hand first, or sounds their noisemaker. They can then call out which team should answer so a late-ringing team doesn't start to give their answer prematurely because they thought they rang-in first.
3. Judges Can Moderate Answer Disputes. There may be some occasions where an answer is close, but not correct. A team may have given an answer that was correct to their (accurate) knowledge but marked incorrectly in the game, an answer that was too general or even only partially correct. A judge can award points based on the merit of a good discussion or argument. They can also ask for elaboration on an answer or give partial credit when needed.
4. Judges Are the "Keepers" of the Answers. It's always useful to print out an answer key before playing your game show in a large game show event. Giving this answer key to the judge lets you focus on the content—especially if you’re not the one running the game with the control screen giving answer previews. When a team gives an answer the judge can determine its correctness, and then you can elaborate on the content, congratulate the team, and explain why the answer was correct or incorrect.
5. Judges Can Add to the Value of the Game Show. Asking a content expert to be a judge in your game show can be an extremely valuable contribution to the game show and your training. Trainees can get extra information and ask questions of an executive, distributor, vendor, or a department specialist. The judges can support your content and add relevance to the game show. Guest judges can also add humorous commentary, variety and levity to game shows sessions.
Bonus Tip: All of a Judge's Decisions Are Final. The best thing about having a separate judge is that no decisions are personal. Clarify at the beginning of a game show that the judge will try to be fair and impartial-and that all judges' decisions are final. It's like having a dedicated umpire at a baseball game; while trainees might not agree with every decision a judge makes, arguing the decision will get them nowhere. For every call "against" their team there's an equally likely chance that there will be a call "for" their team in the next match or category.