Programming Game Show Idea

closeThis post was published 14 years 2 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

My friend i80and had an interesting game show idea the other day. He thought of a show where contestants (probably two) are given a whiteboard, a marker, and a programming problem, and the person who designs the simplest and most efficient data structures for that situation wins. It gave me an idea, too.

What if the show involved not just data structures, but entire class abstractions? Or perhaps actually writing code for a specified operation within the given situation? I think I need to give an example.

Let’s say the show begins with the original idea of designing data structures. Whoever comes up with the simplest and most efficient means to store the necessary data gets points, and the other player gets a smaller number of points based on how much less efficient/more complex their idea is.

Next, the challenge would be to write a class (in PHP, Java, JavaScript, or whatever, depending on the problem) to handle the given task, including all member functions and variables, excluding abstraction layers (which could be referenced in contestants’ code just the same, with comments to describe what the call is doing). Again the results would be analyzed for efficiency, and points awarded.

Finally, the contestants would develop a user interface, if applicable to the problem set forth at the beginning, graded on usability. Tally up the points, and the player with the most points wins a prize such as a trip to Apache, Google, or somewhere (I’d have to work on the destination list).

It’s not fully-baked (neither was i80and’s idea, let’s be honest), but it would be an interesting idea, and probably much more intellectually stimulating than shows like Fear Factor. What do you all think?

Update (2008-01-04): In light of all the views I’ve seen this page get, just let me say that if you steal this idea and get some studio to make it, I expect a cut. Gotta protect intellectual property rights. And set aside an equal share for my friend i80and, too; I did get my inspiration from him.


I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

One Comment:

  1. Ooh, I like it! Would you be able to use 3rd party libraries? C, for example, doesn’t have OOP natively but through GObject, it can be. How would you rank the quality of a UI? That’s like ranking art (to a small degree), and might be somewhat subjective. However, if you showed it to, say, 10 members of the target audience, that might work…

    This would make a fascinating YouTube/Tech TV game show.

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