Getty Images
Getty Images

5 Classic Game Shows That Used To Be Different

Getty Images
Getty Images

From Jeopardy! to The Price is Right, the game shows we know and love have changed throughout television history. Here are five game shows that used to be much different.


While Wheel of Fortune is one of the most recognizable game shows on television, it didn't always look like the show we know today. Although it featured familiar elements, it also included a "shopping" spree between rounds when it was introduced on NBC in 1975.

(Cut to the 7:31 mark to see what we mean.)

The winner of each round had the opportunity to spend his or her earnings on household prizes, such as refrigerators and dining room sets, before the start of the next round. If there was any money left over, the contestant could either receive the remaining amount as a gift certificate or put it in a "bank" for the next round. The shopping bit was eliminated in 1987 in order to speed up the game for syndication.

Wheel of Fortune also featured a weekly tournament, after which champions were invited back the following day for a chance to win more prizes. Winners could return for up to five days in a row until 1982, when it was changed to three days. The top three contestants during the week would also return for "Friday Finals" to win bigger jackpots. Wheel of Fortune's producers eliminated the tournament and returning champion element altogether in 1998.


Art Fleming hosted the original Jeopardy! on NBC from 1964 to 1975. The game was canceled, but experienced a very brief resurgence in 1978 before it was canceled again. In 1984, CBS picked up Jeopardy! with host Alex Trebek, with a few notable changes to the game show's format.

Contestants could buzz in to answer a question at any time, giving the fastest reader an advantage over the competition and making it more difficult for viewers to follow at home. This rule changed in 1985, requiring contestants to wait for the host to finish reading the question before ringing in with an answer. Though the rule change might seem small, it actually made Jeopardy! more about general knowledge than speed reading. Of course, you still had to buzz in first to answer the question.

Jeopardy! also changed how many days a champion could return to play for more money. Before 2003, winners could only return for five consecutive days; today, champions can come back as many times as they can win. Arthur Chu, Julia Collins, and Ken Jennings are the show's highest earners ever. Jennings appeared on the game show a whopping 74 times, taking in over $2.5 million in 2004.

The original Jeopardy! also featured different "think music" during its final round. Julann Griffin wrote that tune, titled "Take Ten," which is more laid-back than the iconic music we know today written by TV producer (and Julann's ex-husband) Merv Griffin.


Truth or Consequences began its run in 1940 as a radio game show, where contestants only had a few seconds to answer a trivia question before "Beulah the Buzzer" sounded. If the contestant couldn't properly guess the "Truth," he or she had to deal with the "Consequences," which involved a wacky or embarrassing stunt or practical joke.

In 1941, the show did a special one-off episode on TV, making it the first game show on commercial television. Nine years later it reappeared on the small screen. For its TV broadcast, the game show had to take on a visual element and a three-camera setup. Truth or Consequences was one of the few radio shows that made the transition successfully, alongside You Bet Your Life, which also made its television debut in 1950.

Fun fact: The town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico is named after the game show. In 1950, host Ralph Edwards said it would broadcast from the first town that changed its name to the game show's, and Hot Springs, N.M. jumped at the opportunity.


Supermarket Sweep began its original run in 1965 on ABC. Its original format was similar to The Price Is Right, with an auction-style setup in which three teams of husbands and wives competed against each other in a two-part game. The first half featured the wives guessing the actual retail price of grocery store items, such as soap, detergent, and salt. The contestant who guessed the closest amount got an additional 15 seconds added to their 1:30 bank for the second part of the game show, which featured the husbands racing up and down grocery store aisles filling their carts with as many products as possible during their allotted time.

The team with the highest value accumulated won the game and received the opportunity to return the next day; all of the couples got to keep the items they picked up during the second part. Supermarket Sweep aired for only two seasons before ABC canceled it in 1967.

But Supermarket Sweep's run was far from over. In 1990, Lifetime picked up the rights and began producing new episodes with an updated format and new rules. The original Supermarket Sweep took place in actual Food Fair supermarkets throughout the state of New York, while the revamped version took place on a Hollywood soundstage made to look like a supermarket.

Instead of husbands and wives, teams could be made up of any two people. The new version also ditched the auction, replacing it with general grocery store trivia. Once again, contestants accrued time based on correct answers for the second half of the game show, which still featured a race to fill a grocery store cart with as many items as possible. The team with the highest value in their cart won the game.

Mini-games between rounds were also introduced in the new version of Supermarket Sweep. After correctly answering a trivia question, a contestant had 30 seconds to search for the brand associated with the question in the supermarket. A supermarket scavenger hunt was also added, where players had to solve a word problem and then try to find the product related to the answer inside the store.

The new Supermarket Sweep ran until 1995 on Lifetime then started up again on PAX from 2000 to 2003.


The first iteration of The Price Is Right aired on NBC in 1956. Bill Cullen hosted the original black-and-white version, which featured four contestants bidding on new merchandise for the home in an auction-style format. But instead of giving one bid for the item, contestants had to keep bidding until the round was over. While the bids might increase with each turn, a contestant could freeze his or her bid, so as not to risk going over the actual retail price. The contestant with the closest bid, without going over, won the item and the round. Whoever had the highest accumulated value in cash and prizes won the game and would return the following day to win more prizes. The Price Is Right moved from NBC to ABC in 1963, but was canceled two years later.

In 1972, TV producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman revamped The Price Is Right for CBS with host Bob Barker. Although The New Price Is Right remained an auction-style game show, it changed its format to feature mini-games after an opening auction round which included only one bid from "Contestants' Row." The winner of the initial round would then join the host on stage to play a mini-game (and hopefully win bigger prizes). Once a mini-game was played, a new contestant would be randomly selected from the audience. The top two winners would return on stage for a final auction round.

The format of The Price Is Right changed again in 1975 when the game show expanded from 30-minute episodes to a full hour of television. The last segment of the game show now included the "Showcase Showdown," which featured the top two contestants from the first half of the episode in one final auction round. Instead of picking the top three contestants based on highest accumulated value of prizes, participants were chosen via spins on The Big Wheel.

The Price Is Right's format has remained practically the same since 1975. Bob Barker finally retired in 2007, and Drew Carey now hosts the beloved game show.

"American Mall," Bloomberg
Unwinnable Video Game Challenges You to Keep a Shopping Mall in Business
"American Mall," Bloomberg
"American Mall," Bloomberg

Shopping malls, once the cultural hub of every suburb in America, have become a punchline in the e-commerce era. There are plenty of malls around today, but they tend to be money pits, considering the hundreds of "dead malls" haunting the landscape. Just how hard is it to keep a mall afloat in the current economy? American Mall, a new video game from Bloomberg, attempts to give an answer.

After choosing which tycoon character you want as your stand-in, you're thrown into a mall—rendered in 1980s-style graphics—already struggling to stay in business. The building is filled with rats and garbage you have to clean up if you want to keep shoppers happy. Every few seconds you're contacted by another store owner begging you to lower their rent, and you must either take the loss or risk them packing up for good. When stores are vacated, it's your job to fill them, but it turns out there aren't too many businesses interested in setting up shop in a dying mall.

You can try gimmicks like food trucks and indoor playgrounds to keep customers interested, but in the end your mall will bleed too much money to support itself. You can try playing the bleak game for yourself here—maybe it will put some of the retail casualties of the last decade into perspective.

[h/t Co.Design]

Live Smarter
Why the Soundtracks to Games Like 'Mario' or 'The Sims' Can Help You Work

When I sat down to write this article, I was feeling a little distracted. My desk salad was calling me. I had new emails in my inbox to read. I had three different articles on my to-do list, and I couldn't decide which to start first. And then, I jumped over to Spotify and hit play on the theme to The Sims. As I listened to the upbeat, fast-paced, wordless music, my writing became faster and more fluid. I felt more “in the zone,” so to speak, than I had all morning. There's a perfectly good explanation: Video games provide the ideal productivity soundtrack. At Popular Science, Sara Chodosh explains why video game music can get you motivated and keep you focused while you work, especially if you're doing relatively menial tasks. It's baked into their composition.

There are several reasons to choose video game music over your favorite pop album. For one, they tend not to have lyrics. A 2012 study of more than 100 people found that playing background music with lyrics tended to distract participants while studying. The research suggested that lyric-less music would be more conducive to attention and performance in the workplace. Another study conducted in open-plan offices in Finland found that people were better at proofreading if there was some kind of continuous, speechless noise going on in the background. Video game music would fit that bill.

Plus, video game music is specifically made not to distract from the task at hand. The songs are meant to be listened to over and over again, fading into the background as you navigate Mario through the Mushroom Kingdom or help Link save Zelda. My friend Josie Brechner, a composer who has scored the music for video games like the recently released Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King, says that game music is definitely written with this in mind.

"Basically, successful video game music straddles the balance between being engaging and exciting, but also not wanting to make you tear your ears off after the 10th or 100th listen," Brechner says. Game music often has a lot of repetition, along with variation on musical themes, to keep the player engaged but still focused on what they're playing, "and that translates well to doing other work that requires focus and concentration."

If you're a particularly high-strung worker, you might want to tune into some relaxing classical music or turn on a song specifically designed to calm you. But if you want to finish those expense reports on a Monday morning, you're better off choosing a fast-tempo ditty designed for seemingly pointless activities like making your Sims eat and go to the toilet regularly. (It can help you with more exciting work responsibilities, too: Other research has found that moderate background noise can increase performance on creative tasks.)

These types of songs work so well that there are entire playlists online devoted just to songs from video game soundtracks that work well for studying. One, for instance, includes songs written for The Legend of Zelda, Skyrim, Super Smash Bros., and other popular games.

The effect of certain theme songs on your productivity may, however, depend on your particular preferences. A 2010 study of elementary school students found that while calming music could improve performance on math and memory tests, music perceived as aggressive or unpleasant distracted them. I was distracted by the deep-voiced chanting of the "Dragonborn Theme" from Skyrim, but felt charged up by the theme from Street Fighter II. There's plenty of variety in video game scores—after all, a battle scene doesn't call for the same type of music as a puzzle game. Not all of them are going to work for you, but by their nature, you probably don't need a lot of variation in your work music if you're using video game soundtracks. If you can play a game for days on end, you can surely listen to the same game soundtrack over and over again.

[h/t Popular Science]


More from mental floss studios