Game Shows

Judging from the commercials showed during game shows, I’m probably the youngest person who enjoys them. I like the ones that are really just built on luck more than skill. I mean, Jeopardy is cool and all, but it isn’t really “fun” in the most obvious sense. Let’s Make a Deal is on right now, and this is a particularly great show because it makes people make really irrational decisions. And don’t get me started on The Price is Right, which I cannot remember not loving.

Just a few minutes ago, a lady walked in Let’s Make a Deal with nothing but her silly outfit. She introduced herself as a professor at some college in California and was wearing a big pink onesie and holding a giant baby bottle. As if going back to work wasn’t going to be bad enough after that outfit, she had won a full family room furniture set, and chose to give it up for a chance on a car. Of course, she promptly lost the car, and her 15 minutes of fame is now 15 minutes of shame.

How does a person decide if they want to go for it or not? Is there a price point where it becomes worth it? She came in with nothing and had, we’ll say, $5500 in her hand. Would she have written a check for $5500 to play the game in the first place? Does starting with $0, then getting $5500 and immediately being given the option to go for more, does your brain not register the value of the $5500 you now have? Is there a prize requirement for the “next prize” that gets people to move on? If the next prize was worth, say, $8k, would it be worth it? Does the next prize need to be at least double the value of what you already have to make it “worthwhile”? Does knowing the value of the prize you are going to go for make it easier to let go of the first winnings? She knew the big prize was a car, but would she still give up the first prize to just open a curtain? Is there a certain level of first prize that makes it “okay” to spend that to play the game? Is it OK to play if you have only $100, but not $1000? Questions questions questions…..

Now there is another person who had a $1000 check in her hand and she chose to go for a curtain, and she got nothing. A gal next to her had $500 in her hand and she won a motorcycle. Obviously, one person won and one lost, but does choosing the curtain EVER “make sense”?

To me, once there’s money in your hand, choosing to go for a curtain or any other game is an irrational decision. Any time you have to give back a known prize on a chance for a new one, you are essentially paying to play the game. I would never pay to play the game. Maybe I’m just too conservative with my money.

I’m sure there are studies out there about this behavior. I need to look them up. Until then, I’ll just watch other people do foolish things.

Written on June 1, 2016