Rear view of young man watching television

Lee Mack, best known as a regular team captain on the British celebrity game show, Would I Lie to You?, has now become a game show host and the initial audience response indicates that he now has a hit show on his hands. In The 1% Club, contestants are required to use their logic and common sense to answer questions only 1% of the population would guess correctly for a chance to win £100,000. The show isn’t particularly unique or inventive in its construction, so considering the positive feedback, why do game shows continue to be so prevalent?


It’s difficult now to look at a TV guide and see what’s on, the number of different channels and streaming services means that we all have different content available to us. Yet, you’ll probably have noticed that TV game shows appear to have occupied a greater chunk of the schedule than they ever did in the past. It’s not just on TV, if you click here to play online casino games, you’ll notice the hit TV game shows Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Deal Or No Deal has been adapted to be real money casino games.

The major online casinos now also offer the live game show experience, which allows players to wager some money and become a contestant in a live game show complete with a dazzling studio, personable host, and captivating games. Many people play casino game shows through their mobile phones and the number of mobile game show games has been increasing rapidly. One of the complaints often leveled at TV game shows is that people want them to be live and accompanied by an app, so that audience members can play at home. Quizzes used to be only present on the radio and some of the earliest TV shows were adapted from radio quizzes, but now they’re everywhere.

Changing Forms

So, what is a game show? A simple question and most people would formulate a definition that factors in contestants competing individually or as a group to win a prize and guided by a host to complete challenges. Yet, games shows have evolved and now exist under a number of very distinct subgenres.

The panel show is a British phenomenon that hasn’t yet caught on in America. Examples include QI, 8 Out Of Ten Cats, Mock the Week, and the previously mentioned Would I Lie To You. In panel shows, the contestants are celebrities, often comedians, who form teams competing against each other.  The purpose isn’t generally to win and there’s little or no prize to play for, the objective is to generate laughs. It’s not exactly clear why there are so many successful panel shows in the UK and the concept hasn’t been transported to the US, but it could be that US audiences simply prefer the talk show format.

The quiz show can be seen as the classic format of a game show and people still enjoy testing or demonstrating their knowledge by attempting to answer questions at home. Who Wants to be A Millionaire? is the gold standard for quiz shows in recent years as international variants of the hit show have been aired in around 160 countries worldwide. Can you recall the movie that prominently featured Who Wants to be A Millionaire? and won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director? Click here for the answer.

Activity game show examples include Wipe-Out, American Ninja Warrior and The Floor Is Lava. These are generally elaborate obstacle courses set in large arenas with a live audience. An interesting addition to this genre is Taskmaster, which is in its 13th season in the UK and now has many international versions. Taskmaster presents comedians with a whole host of challenges to perform in competition with each other and you can click here to see how the variants compare with the hugely popular UK original.

The final genres of game shows are puzzle and dating shows. Puzzle shows typically focus on a particular skill, such as Countdown which features number puzzles and anagrams. The dating format appears to be on the way out due to the number of reality TV shows with dating aspects, although Take Me Out was popular in a number of different countries.

In serious times, the different types of game shows offer laughs or a little trivia that for some, is a much-needed escape.