Rules of the Game

Quiz Shows and American Culture

By Olaf Hoerschelmann

Subjects: American Studies
Paperback : 9780791468104, 218 pages, July 2006
Hardcover : 9780791468098, 218 pages, July 2006

Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Quiz Shows and American Culture

1. What Is a Genre? Quiz Shows/Game Shows

2. A Heart Line to America: Creating Audience Participation

3. Big Money: The Scandal and Quiz Shows in the 1950s

4. Dealing with Change: The Evolution of Quiz Shows in the 1960s

5. Dating Games: Playing Relationships in 1980s and 1990s Television

6. Interactive Control: Quiz Shows and New Media Technologies

7. Conclusion: The Reality of Quiz Shows


Critically examines the quiz show genre in American culture from the 1930s to the present.


From The $64,000 Question and Twenty-One to Jeopardy and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, quiz shows have permeated American culture ever since their beginnings in early radio. In Rules of the Game, Olaf Hoerschelmann critically examines the quiz show genre in American culture, drawing on a large body of radio and television programs and on archival materials relating to the broadcast industry, program sponsors, advertising agencies, and individual producers. Hoerschelmann relates quiz shows to the larger social and industrial structures from which they originate and examines the connection of quiz shows to the production of knowledge in American society. He also provides a rethinking of media genre theory, offering a detailed analysis of the text-audience relationships on quiz shows and their significance for the practice of broadcasting.

Olaf Hoerschelmann is Associate Professor of Media Theory and Criticism at Eastern Illinois University.