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    Howdy. This is Bob. The Bob of Bob Blog. This blog contains about five minutes of my thoughts each day. A record. A history. And occasionally worth reading.

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    Friday, August 22, 2003  

    The 4th Amazing Race ended yesterday. Well, yesterday on TV. It wasn't how I'd organize a round-the-world race.

    The TV premise is: N legs. Last team to get to each leg gets eliminated (except for a few no-one loses legs.) Each leg has a shortcut to skip all tasks. Each leg tends to have a couple of markers that teams get clues to find and a couple of obstacles. The obstacles are my big objection to the show -- not so much travel related as "extreme sport", skydiving, climbing in a cave, dune buggies, walking in a shark tank, being pulled by a bull through mud. The obstacles were often obvious as to which of two choices one should take and didn't require as much thought as strength. A few exceptions.

    And the TV show tried to keep teams relatively close together. For example: staggered starts based on the previous leg often didn't matter as the first "event" wouldn't open for 4-6 hours after ALL the teams would arrive, airport waits with only one obvious "best flight" so everyone queued up to get the same ticket.

    The show had the concept of limited funds per leg -- but I don't remember the choice of spending money really coming into play. Except for bribes for the taxi drivers in the last sequence. I guess the bigger problem was that choices rarely seemed to matter.

    One of the highlights for me was the ballroom party in Venice where the teams had to match a mask worn by one of the guests to a placard. Fail -- end of the line. And only so many teams could be trying at a time. Brilliant puzzle. Used something cultural from Venice (Mardi Gras masks). And really challenged the teams.

    Lowlight: how many places were really explored by the teams. And the interaction between the teams was hard to watch. I didn't really relate to any of the last three teams (and only 1 of the last 5). The clowns were fun. Of course, after the editing room the show only presents the side of the story they want us to see.

    My version:

    1) Fewer legs. Longer legs with less point-to-point-to-point navigation.

    Make teams collect event points in each country/continent. There could be the same "extreme sports" things. Cultural activities (museums, plays, restaurants.) Puzzles to solve. Hidden places to find. Hikes to go on. Etc. Stagger the points so that the first team to do some event gets 13pts, then 7pts, then 5, then 3, then 2, then 1.

    The strategy then becomes which thing to do, in which order, and how many.

    Each leg could last 3-5 days. It would be interesting to not give an absolute (you need N points) but rather let the teams have to decide -- do we go to the rest point now with these points or try for one more event. Add the challenge of you must be here by an exact time or you are automatically eliminated.

    The challenge for the show is to create enough options and have enough crew available. And to make sure not all the teams show up late and get eliminated.

    2) More teams. More options.

    By keeping more teams, the game opens up a little bit more. The 2-3 different groups in early episodes at least made it feel like there was one good option.

    One problem with more teams is that the viewer has less chance to spend time knowing each team.

    3) Choices need to matter.

    With longer legs, the choice of train vs plane or taxi vs walking or path A vs path B would have more chance to play out.
    With more limited budgets, spending now vs later would matter.

    People want to see travel and competition and new things. I think my design would work.

    California Amazing Race
    In progress...

    First stop California/Mexico border:
    hike in the desert
    find something at the zoo
    palomar observatory

    Second stop Los Angeles:

    Third stop Bay Area:

    Fourth stop Sierras:

    9:51 PM  0 comments

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