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Why You Should Drop What You’re Doing And Watch “The Genius”

Why You Should Drop What You’re Doing And Watch “The Genius”

I love stories about games. The Hunger Games, The Westing Game, Ready Player One, all that. Just last week, an article on Kotaku caught my eye. It introduced me to a TV show called The Genius. After one episode, I was hooked.

The Genius is a Korean TV show that launched in 2013 in which 13 celebrities meet each week to play logic games. Everyone participates in the first game of the day. Whomever loses the game is automatically placed in an elimination match and allowed to choose their opponent. If the game has one winner, they may offer immunity to one other player. However, some games allow for more than one winner. That is…if they players can trust each other enough to work together. Even in the 1v1 death matches, the players are not alone. The safe players can assist whomever they want to back, or even try to sabotage a player they want eliminated.

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Now this is no ordinary game show where you have a set of rules and everyone has to follow them. In The Genius, there are only two rules outside of what the individual games state: 1) No violence. 2) No stealing from other players. This, my fellow gamer, is what makes the show so interesting. Players can lie, form alliances, pass notes, bribe each other with Garnets (the in-game currency), and even betray each other. All these things happen. Multiple times. And it’s so fun to watch!

What I realized while watching is that there are all different kinds of intelligence. Mathematical, logical, cunning, social, wisdom, deception, analysis, psychology, and even simple intuition. Each player has their own strengths. I greatly underestimated two of the players because although they didn’t seem to have the typical logical intelligence, they were cunning as hell. They defeated their opponents by being wily rather than wise.

WHAT GAME DEVELOPERS CAN LEARN FROM THE GENIUS

At the core of every game is the “how to play” and the rules. If game developers can take anything from The Genius, it’s this: Encourage players to think beyond the rules. The games in The Genius are fairly similar to common tabletop games, but they put their own spin on the rules. When you add the flexibility of the overall lack of rules, it creates an experience where there is never “one way” to win. If you think of it, you can make it work. Every winner in the main match on The Genius won their game by avoiding the obvious solution and trying something completely different from the other players.

WHAT GAMERS CAN LEARN FROM THE GENIUS

Part of the appeal of American reality TV game shows is the interpersonal conflict. Unfortunately, some brands have gone too far by casting and creating drama on purpose which detracts from the fun of the competition itself. Winning The Genius relies on manipulating your opponents, but at the end of it all, the players don’t take their fierce rivalries personally. As stressful as these games are, they always keep in mind that they’re just that. Games. Games that are meant to be both challenging and fun. The players are a shining example of strong competition, but also good sportsmanship and respect.

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The series lasted four seasons. All of season 1 is available on YouTube with English subtitles thanks to user Bumdidlyumptious. Finding the other three seasons will be more difficult, but I’m up for the challenge.

Got any fun game shows the world needs to know about? Share them with us in the comments!

Image credits: tvN

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