Game show policy

Ben Craven
Insights Newsletter
13 July, 2018

Game shows are nothing new. They’re a dime a dozen.

We have all seen shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Wheel of Fortune, and The Price Is Right.

These types of shows are popular because we like seeing everyday people succeed, become winners, and realise their dreams. Well, it’s either that or we’re suckers for schadenfreude.

This week a new game show launched in the US, titled Paid Off.

Host Michael Torpey tests the skills of the three contestants with questions relating to general knowledge, pop culture and their personal areas of study.

And the show is causing quite a storm. Not for the nature of the competition, but for the prizes being offered. The show entices contestants with a promise that the winner will have their outstanding student loan paid off in full.

The concept has struck a chord with thousands of young Americans saddled with debt who were quick to apply. I imagine it can only be a matter of time before New Zealand launches its own version some years down the track.

In fact, there is already some movement in this area.

The other week Housing Minister Phil Twyford announced that prospective first home buyers could now register for the KiwiBuild ballot. In a gameshow-esque fashion, he lauded the 6,000 applications in the first day, while commentators announced that the registrations were a sign of public faith in the policy.

Yet, I can’t help but feel the Minister is selling himself short.

Why not take some inspiration from the Americans and turn the ballot into a show instead?

The Kiwiana Quiz could test applicants on everything from deep Dave Dobbyn lyrics, to one’s Pavlova-making potential.

Gumboot throwing and sheep shearing could be rehabilitated for prime time TV as contestants duel it out to prove they are the ultimate Kiwi Battler.

The winner would be eligible for a KiwiBuild house, while the losers would see their dreams dashed.

It would be gripping. There would be highs. There would be lows. There might even be some tears.

But all in all it would undoubtedly make for great television.

Now of course we could always simply reform planning laws and make it cheaper and easier to build the houses people are struggling to afford. But really, where’s the fun in that? 

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