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A good game, but fatally flawed endgame
Golden Balls (TV Series)
Member Name: afchristley
Golden Balls (TV Series)
Advantages: Good insight into psychology, game theory and persuasion
Disadvantages: Slightly repetitive, poor final round, harshly punished
Goldenballs is an afternoon gameshow hosted by Jasper Carrott which is a game of luck, psychology and a fair amount of the gift of the gab.
I am a very keen quiz show fanatic and as such have seen the majority of them out there. On the face of it, this seems a pretty good show, but when you scratch the surface of the game, you see a somewhat darker side to the game which I can only help feel was deliberate by the producers, which marks the game very highly down in my opinion. I shall explain why soon.
Round one starts with four players, each of whom are given 4 balls at random. Out of the 16 balls, 12 have a cash value, ranging anywhere from £10 to £75,000. 4 balls are KILLER balls, which are worth nothing and are a later hindrance come the final round.
The idea is that each person has 2 balls showing, with 2 hidden for only him/her to see. Given what people know and what they don't know, each person's task is to convince the others that they have good value balls, as the person they vote off has their balls taken away with them, good or bad. Therefore, if someone has a £75,000 showing for example, they are likely to stay in, whereas if someone has 2 killers showing, he/she has a lot of work to do to be kept, as being kept means that killer balls would also be kept.
After a few minutes of bartering and the basic 'Please keep me I promise I have high-value balls here' etc etc, each of them votes, and the one with the most votes gets ejected from the game, including their balls. In case of a tie, they discuss together who to eject until a decision is made.
The process is quite a repetitive one show upon show. People almost always are trying to convince people to keep them in - either by defending themselves profusely or by diverting the attention onto a weaker player to defend themselves - it can be interesting to see what these people say and do, and what their body language says. I'm sure if you were a body language expert you would spot things they do to give away hints as to whether they are lying or being truthful. Even though it's repetitive it's still quite an enjoyable thing to listen to.
Aside from that, there is not actually too much too this game, which in a way is a good thing, but doesn't require that much skill from a player other than their persuasion techniques or the luck that they have good value balls on show.
Round two plays in a similar vain to round one. This time three more balls are put in (to make 15), two cash balls and one killer ball. The other difference is that 3 balls are hidden for each player and 2 are shown. The same bartering process ensues, and afterwards one more is voted off to leave the final two.
In the final round, we have 10 balls remaining alongside one more ball (a killer ball). The then each pick a ball to bin - which means delete it from the game, and a ball to win - which means to include it in the 'Golden Five'. A killer ball means that the current total is divided by 10. For example, if the first two balls are £100 and £1,000, and then a killer ball is found, the total goes down to £110. Therefore, it is advisable either to get killer balls first, or not get them at all.
I find this part of the show incredibly harsh, especially considering what happens afterwards. For a killer ball to punish so much so that your total goes down to 10% of what it was is a harsh punishment for something that's quite likely to happen at some point.
Needless to say, after the five 'win' balls are chosen, the final decision needs to be made between the two remaining players. This is now the key part of the show.
Each player must now decide whether to SPLIT or STEAL. The possibilities are as follows:
Both players SPLIT: This means the total prize money is split in two and shared between the contestants equally.
Both players STEAL: This means both go home with nothing.
One SPLITS and one STEALS: The player who steals gets 100% of the money whereas the splitter goes home with nothing.
It tends to play that each one pleads with the other to split as they don't want the other to steal. By stealing the opponent can't win, so they each play on each other's morals in order to get to the split-split situation.
However, some players are there to convince the player to split, and then steal themselves, in order to bag the full cash. This is often frowned upon and seen as immoral.
This is where the fundamental flaw in this game comes in. After reading a couple of reviews on here, they agree with the consensus that people who steal are immoral and deserve to go home with nothing.
My opinion is the opposite, they should be applauded for doing the right thing. Forgetting morals, it is mathematically the correct thing to steal. The only way a player can be in a situation where he/she cannot win money is because the opponent has stolen. In that case, it makes no difference what you choose, as you will win £0 either way.
If the opponent chooses to split, then you win regardless what you pick. You can win the full amount if you steal, or half the amount should you split. You may feel better karma should you split, but mathematically you will earn more money by stealing than you do by splitting. I understand those who like to split, but at the end of the day you are splitting half your money with a stranger, you go on the show to win all the money, not half of it.
The problem is, if everyone realises this, then everyone will steal. Given that, then the show would never give out any money. This is what I have a lot of issue with.
Many people will still think given my small explanation that splitting is still a good idea even though there is no situation in which you will be better off financially by splitting.
I just find it a large disappointment when you go through the game enjoying the psychology and drama when the endgame is harshly punished through a lack of luck, and the optimal strategy for a player in the end given a perfect game will always end in a no win given the other player also playing the optimal strategy. I find it a shame that there are other shows out there which reward skill and talent, but this one doesn't.
However, the game isn't played perfectly, people do still split and as such people win money.
Jasper Carrott, while he is a good host, is not a host where you couldn't imagine a better alternative. The program duration is of a good length (60 minutes but doesn't drag) with adverts, and is clearly a popular game show. I just can't understand the advantage of splitting over stealing, and this ruins the game for me entirely.
Summary: A good game for those with morals