Think about all the quiz show video games you’ve ever played: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire; Deal or No Deal; Who Can Eat The Most Cats?; The Weakest Link. No matter what the license, no matter what the format, one thing is always missing from the action: a real prize. The only games that dispense cash are the ones you find in your local pub – and in most cases the winnings are immediately spent on booze, or perhaps a damp kebab.
It’s a problem that has been around for ages. Where is the thrill in answering questions posed by a virtual Chris Tarrant or Noel Edmonds if there’s no reward at the end? Well, Microsoft is about to change things – and once they do, it’s quite possible that you’ll never see a prize-less simulation again. This spring the company is launching a beta trial for 1 vs 100 – a quiz that runs in real-time over Xbox LIVE, with real contestants, a human host and lots of genuine swag to be won. We’re talking good stuff too – HDTVs, holiday trips and a chance to go clubbing with Elton John (okay, so I made that last one up. You get the idea.).
In actual fact, there will be two versions of 1 vs 100. During the week you’ll be able to jump into something called Extended Play - a sort of secondary edition of the game that will run every 30 minutes, seven days a week. There are no prizes to be won here (boooo!) but the more often that you play and the better you perform, the greater your chance of being picked to take part in the main event (yaaaay!). As a bonus, Extended Play winners will also be entered into a massive prize draw for large prizes that will be given away once per "season" of the show.
As nice as these virtual raffle tickets may be, it's on the main version of the show that you'll have the best shot at actually winning something. The full-blooded incarnation of 1 vs 100 will run twice a week in two hour slots on Friday and Saturday nights and will be hosted by James McCourt (yes, him off the telly). Assuming you're an Xbox LIVE Gold member, you'll be able to set a little reminder on the Dashboard that will prompt you to run the game a few minutes before the show kicks off. Once you've done this you'll enter a virtual lobby where you (or rather your LIVE Avatar) will stand around some of the other participants. At this point you're encouraged to start "amping" - a Pepsi Max Generation-style byword for "going mental". By tapping the Y button your chap or chapette will start to wave, dance and generally act like someone who's overdosed on St John's Wort. The faster you tap the quicker you go, and you can alter your actions by fiddling around with the left analogue stick. It's extremely silly, and is clearly therefore A Good Thing.
Once the show actually kicks off, it's time to cross your digits that you get picked for a decent role. If you've watched 1 vs 100 on TV you'll know that there are two major factions within the game - The One and The Mob. Microsoft have now added a third group, The Crowd, but it's only the first two sides that get a chance nab prizes. In a nutshell the game sees The One attempting to knock out The Mob by answering multiple choice questions, each with three potential answers. Assuming that The One succeeds they progress to the next question, and all the Mobsters who gave incorrect answers are removed from play: if ten people cock-up, the game becomes 1 vs 90, for example.