AnimeChicago Spotlight is a bi-weekly interview series highlighting local organization leaders and personalities. For our fourth edition, we’re highlighting Chicagoan local Brent Rolland and his convention game show, Anime Trivia Trap.
AC: What is Anime Trivia Trap? How does it work?
BR: “Anime Trivia Trap” is a trivia game show for anime fans based off of the short-lived 1984 Mark Goodson-produced program hosted by Bob Eubanks. We play this game with two teams of three contestants (with male-female-male and female-male-female configurations). The object of the game is to reach ¥3000 (we play for yen that is converted into good ol’ American dollars [$1 per ¥100]—we are an anime game show, y’know!) by answering anime trivia questions. ATT is played in three rounds:
- Round 1: “Trivia Trap Round” In the first round, each team will see two rows of “monitors”, each row holding four possible answers to an anime question. The team in control picks either the top or bottom row, and then I ask the team the question connected to those answers. Now, this is where the “trap” of the game comes in: The team, one by one, must eliminate the three incorrect answers while avoiding selecting the correct answer. Each answer eliminated banks ¥150 for the team, and ¥600 if they get all three incorrect answers eliminated. We repeat this between the teams until each team has played three questions.
- Round 2: “Race for ¥3000” In the second round, known as the each team will now answer their questions from categories seen on three “monitors.” The team in the lead will see the first three categories and the first person on the team will pick one of the categories, in which I will ask a question. The team will have up to three chances (one per person) and three seconds each to correctly answer the question; a correct answer will win the team yen, or if all three contestants answer incorrectly or use up their time, control will pass on to the other team. Each correct answer is ¥300; after the tenth question, the dollar value doubles to ¥600. The team that reaches ¥3000 wins the game, keeps their cash, and moves on to the final round.
- Final Round: “Pot Of Gold” In the final round, the team will now have a chance to win or share a jackpot of ¥10,000; each contestant is now playing on their own and are looking for correct answers only. The team will be shown a row of four answers; the first contestant will have the option of passing the first row of answers to his/her teammate or playing it; the second contestant also has the option of playing or passing to the third contestant. Whomever plays the row of answers will receive its question; a correct answer will give the contestant ¥1000 and a shot at the ¥10,000 jackpot. This process repeats for the other two contestants. The contestants that answered their preliminary question correctly will now have a chance at the final row of answers and the question for ¥10,000; whomever answers the final question correctly will either share or win the entire jackpot.
AC: What inspired you to create a game show panel and travel to conventions?
BR: Since birth, I have been extremely enraptured with game shows. My mom tells me that the first words out of my mouth were, “Ten thousand dollars!” And that’s the truth. Nine years later, my next love, anime, came about. I never fathomed that the two could merge so wonderfully like chocolate and peanut butter (or anything with peanut butter, in my honest opinion) until I saw my now friend and mentor, Greg Wicker (a.k.a. “Greggo”) host “Anime Press Your Luck” and “The ¥25,000 Pyramid” at Anime Central in 2003. Seeing everyone so engaged in the game and enjoying all the colors, sounds, Greggo’s fantastic hosting/execution and fun trivia was an inspiring experience. Not only that, I got to meet Greggo and play APYL a few months later at the now-defunct Illinois convention, KazeCon. (For the record, I lost royally, but had the time of my life!) With these experiences, I wanted to do my own thing. 2004 introduced me to “Trivia Trap” on Game Show Network, and I instantly became enamored with the format, simplicity, and, yes, Bob’s sweaters. I then created a “prototype” game as a Flash project in college, which was well-received with my friends and classmates. Times after college got super-busy for me with graduation, family and work; it was in 2009 that my good friend Minsu encouraged me to apply to host “Anime Trivia Trap” at Anime Central. That was the impetus that I needed to go for it. ACen said “yes,” I said “yes,” and the first game was hosted in May 2009. Since then, I have expanded to more conventions across Illinois and in the midwest. My vision for the game show is not only to provide super-fun, high-quality entertainment for conventions, but to also bring the anime community together and support the anime industry by “buying legal, watching legal, and staying legal.”
AC: How long have you been hosting? How has it been received?
BR: I’m proud to say that ATT is entering its fifth year of production this year (in 2013)! I have received wonderful feedback from contestants and audience members, which has helped in everything from our questions to the flow of our show. This is a “DIY” project in several ways, as I have created the graphics, the questions, the rules/regulations for conventions, and all the prizes come out of the goodness of my heart (a.k.a. my wallet—lol!). Over the four years of the show, I have received such awesome support from my amazing friends (list of names at the bottom—this paragraph is long enough!) who have brought much-needed help and success to the show. We also have a following on Twitter where we post anime questions, giveaways, contests, and our upcoming shows.
AC: Do you have plans to grow the show or improve upon it?
BR: Absolutely! On the back-end, I’m working on new graphics for the game and updating the Flash code to make the game run smoother as well as brand new questions on all kinds of anime, old, new, forgotten, and otherwise. On the front-end, I am working on assembling a dedicated team to assist me at each of the games around the country (as I have hosted the game alone before—not recommended whatsoever!). Additionally, I am looking at partnering with companies like Funimation and NIS America to provide contestants with bigger, better prizes. We are always open to feedback from our contestants and audience; in addition to Twitter, firstname.lastname@example.org is the best way to contact us!
AC: What is your favorite Anime Trivia Trap moment to date?
BR: In 2011, I had one contestant answer a game-winning question in the “Race for ¥3000” round on “Case Closed”/“Detective Conan.” The question was: “Case Closed’s” detective Richard Moore is often seen going crazy for what fictional pop singing idol? I won’t say the answer here, but the look on my contestant’s face was so priceless as she exuberantly said the answer. Have you ever opened up a present at Christmas, suspicious that it’s the one thing you’ve wanted for so long, and your face slowly lights up second by second as you peel away the layers of wrapping, tape and love? Yeah…that’s the best way I can describe her. So awesome.
AC: Do you have tips for aspiring panelists out there?
BR: Indeed! If you have an idea or dream, totally go for it. Do not hesitate, hem and haw or make excuses. Be intentional and know that there are no bad ideas. I mean, “Cosplay Chess” isn’t the Holy Grail of games, but it is the creator’s dream and intention to make it happen, and as fans and humans, we have to respect and honor the ideas of others. Also, there are so many nay-sayers out there who still bash anime and anything of the like. Separate yourself from these people and focus on the work that you want to do. And, to translate that in a positive manner, surround yourself with friends who will support and celebrate your hard work. Build yourself a team of people you can trust (or meet new people who will share in your panel). Additionally, to the best of your ability, travel, travel, travel! The first time I traveled out of state for Anime St. Louis was nothing short of amazing. Just seeing the Gateway Arch as if someone was holding a miniature 3D model of it in front of my face was worth the five hours of traveling. Lastly, have FUN!
AC: When and where can people attend your next Anime Trivia Trap show?
BR: We are working on filling up our convention schedule for 2013, but do expect to see us at Anime St. Louis in April and Anime Central in May. Follow us on Twitter or e-mail us at email@example.com. We are looking forward to meeting new fans and spreading the anime love at a convention near you!
Special Thanks To the ATT Crew, past and present: Minsu Kim, Eric Berry, Jon Jeung, Brian Vasquez, and Säbrinä Marie Wadhams. Additional special thanks to Jamie Sanchez of AnimeChicago and my dear friend/mentor Greg Wicker (a.k.a. “Greggo”) of Greggo’s Game Shows. Thank you all for your amazing support and friendship!