Great Game Chicago (Chicago FIXIT) and Reality TV

More about the workings of the show

(Continued from our Great Game Chicago Medium Post)

Great Game Chicago blends elements of television's two dominate formats: rule-governed pro sports telecasts and voter-driven Reality TV talent contests like The Voice.

We envision Great Game Chicago as a six-month prime-time TV talent contest airing in 24 hour-long episodes. In Chicago, the Game could air on

  • Chicago Cable Access TV (CAN-TV) on a shoestring budget.
  • Chicago Public Television (WTTW Channel 11) on a moderate budget.
  • One or more of Chicago's five network TV stations with all the bells and whistles of high-production reality TV.

Those who scoff at Reality TV are scoffing at the most powerful voter-generating mechanism ever devised.

  • Consider that over half a billion votes were cast in a single 25-episode season of American Idol. (Figures for shows like Dancing with the Stars and The Voice are not readily available.)
  • Producers describe Reality TV as transformative. Realty TV attracts spectacularly large audiences by virtue of its ability to transform the lives of its viewers in two ways:
    • by getting viewers to identify and care about contestants
    • by giving viewers a role, as voters, in deciding contest outcomes.

Chicago's other media: how they participate. The flagship Great Game telecast rests on the shoulders of an elaborate support network of local media. This network compares with the network that amplifies, articulates and critiques the telecasts and performance of Chicago's sports teams. Here is a rough comparison:

    • Pro Sports network. Daily newspapers sports pages and TV newscasts sports coverage. Pre- and post- game coverage on Chicago radio broadcasts of pro sports games. Two AM radio stations dedicated to sports. Online media, especially social media.
    • Great Game Network. Coverage in news and editorial sections of daily newspapers. Extensive coverage in community newspapers. Coverage on commercial, community and public TV. Coverage in Chicago's two political AM radio news stations. Coverage in online and social media. Additional interactive and innovative Great Game-related formats are devised to engage the audiences of all of these media.

We envision Great Game Chicago airing over six months in three two-month phases.

  • Host. The Game is moderated by a dynamic, impartial, extremely well-informed host selected for his or her ability to get Great Game participants listening to and learning from each other. This role is critically important.
  • Rules. The creation and strict and impartial enforcement of rules of discourse is critical to functionality of the Game. The Game makes use of expert commentary, instant replay and instant fact checking to familiarize the public with the rules of the game. Trust among Chicagoans may be in short supply these days, but trust can develop as Chicagoans learn to trust the rules of the Game as they trust the rules of game of the favorite sports teams.

Phase I invites and challenges all Chicagoans (including City Hall) to participate in the first season of Chicago's ongoing, media-based drive to end violence.

  • Phase I centers on a crazy/amazing/productive two-month citywide search for Chicago problem solvers.
  • The search is conducted in auditions held citywide. It attracts and amazing variety of teams with offers of exciting rewards for participants and finalists alike.
  • Teams can be any blend students, experts, and Chicagoans on both sides of the law. You name it.
  • Team members fulfill vital roles: researcher, video producer, spokesperson, promoter and team leader.
  • After two months, Phase I ends with the selection of 16 lively, competent, promising four-member teams.

Phase II winnows down the Game’s Sharp Sixteen teams to its Expert Eight finalists.

  • Teams invent and reinvent solutions based on experience, research and the rigorous ‘Shark Tank’ critiques of academics, journalists and policy makers.
  • The Great Game's provisional point-scoring system evaluates teams and solutions.
  • Weekly viewer votes decide winning teams and solutions.

In Phase III, viewers select a Best Team and Best Solution. The mayor receives them. Ceremoniously. Chicago celebrates!

  • Problem: what if a winning solution does not succeed as planned? What those responsible for implementing a winning solution do not act with dispatch to implement it?
  • Solution: the Great Game is recursive. Hence it can revisit a Winning Solution in order to revise, alter, reinvent or even discard it.