Fun, easy and cheap ways for contestants to "buzz in" to answer quiz questions?
July 8, 2008 6:28 AM   Subscribe

Our corporate outing next week is going to include a few trivia questions, and we need a good way for people to answer. There will be 10 teams and a captain on each team. Money's a little tight, so those cool electronic buzzers are out. I'd prefer not to suffer the chaos of shouting out answers and figuring who is quickest. So I'd like a method that's fun and accurate. Any ideas?
posted by VeniceGlass to Grab Bag (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I took a first aid course recently, and the teacher had us play a first aid version of Jeopardy! for fun and prizes. To buzz in, we used squeak toys.
posted by Koko at 6:45 AM on July 8, 2008

Are only the captains allowed to signal or can all team members?

Can you get one laptop per team together? You could use an instant messaging client that supports multiple people in one chat. Each team would pre-type the buzz in phrase (e.g., their team name) before the question is read, and then all they have to do is push enter. First one to show up on the emcee's screen gets it. The lag time is probably good enough, especially if you ran your own Jabber or IRC server on a local wireless or ethernet network.

Failing that you could try SMS if you have enough people with unlimited messaging, but the lag time is going to be a lot worse and may lead to some calls of unfairness.
posted by jedicus at 6:49 AM on July 8, 2008

Text messaging or emails (as "we're first! Call on us!" or with the answer). Or it could be a post to a message board made for the game.
posted by cashman at 6:50 AM on July 8, 2008

Money's a little tight, so those cool electronic buzzers are out.
Not even $5? That's how much the Staples "Easy" buzzers cost.
posted by junesix at 6:52 AM on July 8, 2008

Ahh, I see the reasoning. Scratch mine.
posted by junesix at 6:54 AM on July 8, 2008

Snapple caps?
posted by sjuhawk31 at 6:54 AM on July 8, 2008

The problem with noisemakers is that, if they all sound the same, you're not gonna know who buzzed in first. Jeopardy works because there's a circuit set up that only takes the first contestant to buzz. The cheapest accurate way to do it might be to just have someone watching and have a team captain raise their hand.

Well... it's cheapest as long as everybody already has hands...
posted by excitementMD at 6:55 AM on July 8, 2008

Get a pack of noisemakers with at least 10 different noises. (I don't know whether the noisemakers at that link fit that description, but search around.) Assign each team a different noise. Whichever noise you hear first corresponds to the quickest team.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:14 AM on July 8, 2008

Can you describe the setting more? Will you be outside or in a conference room or what? If you're in a conference room, you could just use phones/speed dial. But if you're just going to be in a big open area, that limits solutions. 10 teams of how many people? 3? 7?
posted by cashman at 7:29 AM on July 8, 2008

Last trivia game I went to, everyone filled out forms for each question, and the quiz master marked them all and added up who got the most right. For occasional variations, he'd ask a who am I (or something similar) and the individual who though they knew, would stand and shout their name. Great triva master - his who am I answer ended up being Homer Simpson (my daughter won - it was the only question she knew the answer to and it was university staff, so she felt pretty spectacular). Of course, he did not say to start "I am a cartoon character." He gave clues like "my mother disappeared in my youth. my father was neglectful..." and so on.

Anyway, back to topic - have them answer the majority on paper, and special individual questions by standing and shouting their name.
posted by b33j at 7:35 AM on July 8, 2008

You could have them all slap their hand on the same buzzer -- that way, the hand on the bottom wins.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:40 AM on July 8, 2008

The laptop idea is clever if it works out for your environment and your users are savvy enough (you'd be surprised and don't assume technical competence). Otherwise answering them all on paper is how I have always seen contests like this in bars handled.
posted by mmascolino at 7:42 AM on July 8, 2008

First one to throw a balled-up corporate memo into a wastebasket? Provide an inbox full of pre-wadded memos for each contestant, and maybe put the basket near enough that it won't require much skill to make the shot.
posted by booth at 7:42 AM on July 8, 2008

Never used it but Poll Everywhere might be worth a look. Use cell phones to text message answers, acts as a public response system. One downside might be the "fairness" of those that can text message faster.
posted by genial at 8:19 AM on July 8, 2008

I think most places that have multiple mobile providers will find that the different latencies of SMS message sending and delivery will render this a not very fair approach for a quiz that is expected to have rapid fire answers.
posted by mmascolino at 8:26 AM on July 8, 2008

Response by poster: Some excellent ideas here - thanks all. Some limits - we expect about 13 people on a team; no internet access (but I like that Poll Everywhere!).

Anyone know where to get noisemakers that definitely sound different??
posted by VeniceGlass at 8:26 AM on July 8, 2008

Anyone know where to get noisemakers that definitely sound different??

When I was a kid, I had a little plastic toy guitar that played a few different pre-recorded guitar noises. Can you still get those in malls? It would work as long as you have a sharp enough ear to distinguish between different guitar licks.

Really, if I were in your position, I'd just head over to a mall, go to a novelty/gizmo store, and ask the clerk what you're looking for. Chances of success are probably 90%.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:36 AM on July 8, 2008

How about giving each team an auction-style fan? More visible than a raised hand, and you don't get the cacophony problem you get from noisemakers or shouting or slapping the table. If you can arrange a back-up judge / scorekeeper to help you spot, it may go smoother.
posted by ormondsacker at 8:49 AM on July 8, 2008

Also, you may have too many people for the cool electronic buzzers to handle, but if you want to give it a shot, you could always contact your local college quiz bowl team, and see if they'll loan/rent you a system for the day.
posted by ormondsacker at 9:01 AM on July 8, 2008

You could go in a circle of the teams, asking each team one question.

You ask Team A a question: if they get it wrong, Team B can try to answer, and so on. After someone gets it correct, Team B goes.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:21 AM on July 8, 2008

That round robin approach feels like it would end up giving the win not to the best team, but to whichever team had the most bad teams in front of them. If your two best teams are side by side, for example, the later team is almost never going to get any second chance questions, because the earlier team will answer them all, as well as answering their own question.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:57 AM on July 8, 2008

From having done these things in orientations and retreats, I would definitely recommend trying to come up with a "noisy" way rather than writing things down or raising paddles. That way people get more into it and there is more energy in the room.
posted by radioamy at 11:40 AM on July 8, 2008

If you're going to go with different noise makers, couldn't just as easily have each team captain (or the any player, really) shout out their team name to buzz in? Same overlapping problem as you would have with shouting out answers, but you don't give away the answers if there's contention. You could use a small recorder (tape, memo, mp3 player, phone, etc.) to do a quick replay in case of a perceived tie. You could up the zany factor by assigning each team a different sound to make rather than shouting out their name.
posted by team lowkey at 4:23 PM on July 8, 2008

If you're still open to the noisemakers, use the Staples buzzer I linked to earlier for one team and the Yahoo! Insta-Yodel buzzer ($19) for the other team. BTW I have the Yahoo! one in my office and it's a riot.
posted by junesix at 5:48 PM on July 8, 2008

« Older What gets blogs noticed?   |   How can I fulfill my fantasy? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.