Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, "Do you want to pick door No. 2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice? -The Monty Hall Problem as stated by Marilyn vos Savant
In Fall 2009, I taught my First-Year Seminar, Wheels and Deals: A Survey of Television Game Shows for the first time. The course was originally inspired by the Monty Hall Problem, but looks at more than just the mathematics behind game shows. We begin by discussing genre and what programs fit into the game show genre. We look at the history of game shows, talk a bit about contestant perspective, and discuss a bit about the roles race and gender play in game shows. Along the way students work in groups to create their own game shows that we premiere on campus. Surprisingly, the game show genre has been largely ignored by academics and it is often difficult to find scholarly writing on the topic. Below are some of the resources I have found most helpful in teaching this course. The syllabus and schedule for my course (last taught in Fall 2017) can be found here and here.
Texts Focused on Game Shows
Thomas A. Delong, Quiz Craze: America’s Infatuation with Game Shows, Praeger, New York, 1991.
Bob Harris, Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!, Crown Publishers, New York, 2006.
Leonard Gillman, “The Car and the Goats,” The American Mathematical Monthly, 99:1 (1992) 3–7.
LaDawn Haws, “Plinko, Probability, and Pascal,” The Mathematics Teacher, 88:4 (1995) 282–285.
Robert J. Quinn, “Exploring the Probabilities of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’,” Teaching Statistics, 25:3 (2003) 81–84.
Game Shows and other fields
Shamena Anwar, “Testing for discrimination: Evidence from the game show Street Smarts,” Jounral of Economic Behavior & Organization, 81 (2012) 268–285.
Stephen J. Gould and Pola B. Gupta, “‘Come on Down’ How Consumers View Game Shows and the Products Placed in Them,” Journal of Advertising, 35:1 (2006) 65–81.
Amir Hetsroni, “The Quiz Show As a Cultural Mirror: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in the English- Speaking World,” Atlantic Journal of Communication, 13:2 (2005) 97–112.
Amir Hetsroni, “Globalization and Knowledge Hierarchy Through the Eyes of a Quiz Show: A cross- cultural analysis of Who Wants to be a Millionaire in North America, West Europe, East Europe, and the Middle East,” Innovation, 18: 4 (2005) 385–405.
Daniel K. N. Johnson and Tracy R. Gleason, “Who REALLY Wants to be a Millionaire? Gender Differences in the Game Show Contestant Behavior Under Risk,” Social Science Quarterly, 90:2 (2009) 243–261.
Matthew R. Kelley and Robert J. Lemke, “Decision-making Under Uncertainty in the Cash Cab,” Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27 (2013) 542–551.
Randy Laist, “A Phenomenological Reading of Wheel of Fortune,” Journal of Popular Television and Film, 40:1 (2012) 14–21.
Katherine Meizel, “Making a Dream a Reality (Show): The Celebration of Failure in American Idol,” Popular Music and Society, 32:4 (2009) 475–488.
Natalia Rulyova, “Domesticating the Western Format on Russian TV: Subversive Glocalisation in the Game Show Pole Chudes(The Field of Miracles),” Europe-Asia Studies, 59:8 (2007) 1367–1386.
Stephen Tropiano,“Playing it Straight: Reality Dating Shows and the Construction of Heterosexuality,” Journal of Popular Film and Television, 37:2 (2009) 60–69.
Ana Valenzuela and Priya Raghubir, “The Role of Strategy in Mixed-Gender Group Interactions: A Study of the Television Show “The Weakest Link”,” Sex Roles 57 (2007) 293–303.