As much as I like arts and crafts, creating my own Jeopardy board for an event is kind of a pain. If I do a good job, I can keep it for another event, but that then takes up some of our limited storage space.
So when I got the idea for a Jeopardy event for my teens, I did what most of my generation does. I googled.
Happily enough, I found Factile, a website that takes a great deal of pain from the process. While they do have relatively inexpensive options that offer a good deal more features, I have had no problems with making the free version work for my purposes. You can have three games saved at a time, which is normally plenty for me. If you’re a bigger library it might be worth it to get a paid account or have multiple free accounts, but normally two – three rounds makes for a nice length for an event.
Making an account is pretty straight forward, after which you’ll get the option to start making your boards:
As your account will be new, you won’t have any old games saved. To get one started, go to the New Game button.
You will be prompted to fill in a custom URL, and name your board. You can also just have it create a random URL as you’re probably just going to be accessing it directly from your account.
On the paid versions you can upload a file, but I make up my questions and answers in Word and just copy and paste them in. Click the three dots at the top of the question you want to edit.
Input the information, then repeat for the rest of the questions and answers you wish to include. If you don’t want all five rows, don’t fill out the bottom row. If you don’t want all six columns, leave the last column blank.
Factile has a very user friendly interface, in my opinion, so the only time sink will be coming up with the questions and answers you want to use. Try to keep in mind what information your teens might have access to. Sometimes the difficulty of the question isn’t the content, but how likely it is the teen has come across that content. If your category is fantasy books, for instance, a question about The Lord of the Rings will be easier than one about Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence. For instance, you might ask: “These three hobbits accompanied Frodo on his quest.” Don’t go too obscure for the questions either – you want people to have fun and have a chance. Only get obscure if you know you’ll have a lot of serious geeks playing. A question on the latter series I mentioned might look like, “Will is the last member of this ancient society.” If you’ve read the series, it hopefully isn’t too hard to remember that he is an Old One.
This, of course, doesn’t prevent you from putting trick questions in. But try to keep them on the level of, “Oh shoot, I got those mixed up!” not, “How am I supposed to know that?!” If you’re going with a book theme, it’s always fun to put a Books vs. Movies category in, and see if players can keep their facts straight between what happened in one versus the other.
And try to phrase your questions as statements. It’s a little tricky to get the hang of, but once you get the feel for it it isn’t too hard. Sometimes I’ll just put down the questions first, and go back and worry about the wording later. It’s up to you to decide how much you want to enforce answers in the form of questions. If this is their first time, perhaps go a little easier on them.
When it comes to playing, things are pretty simple as well. If you have buzzers, use those, but raising hands works just as well. Make sure everyone knows what’s expected from them upfront. It can also help to have someone assigned to watching the players to ensure that right one is picked to make the first attempt. You can manage it by yourself, but if you have a helper it makes things easier. Make sure you have all your answers available to the questions. You might think you’ll remember them all, but don’t count on it.
Have either a projector, a TV hooked up to a laptop, or a smart board so everyone can see the board easily, and hit play on the right game. This will come up:
There are other options, but with the free version just select Play Now. Next will be a screen asking how many players will be playing. I recommend no more than four, unless you have that second person with you to watch or listen for who’s fastest to volunteer. After that, they can select avatars:
For your own sanity, I highly recommend taking the time to edit the avatars to each player’s name. Use the edit icon at the top right of the avatar. Once you’ve selected everyone’s avatars, one last confirmation screen will pop up. Hit start game and go! This is what it will look like:
Select the first question in the first column. It will pop up like this:
Players will have 30 seconds to answer or give up. Feel free to read the question aloud with your best Alec Trebek impression. As you can see, there is an option to skip waiting and go straight to seeing the answer below the count at the top right. If someone gets it right, just click the green check mark. If you make a mistake, there are plus and minus icons that let you adjust their total points.
Then just keep playing from there! As long as you’ve kept the questions and answers reasonable, it’s a pretty easy and fun event. It’s also a lot easier than manually trying to keep up with scores or physically designing a game board. You can figure out how and if they get prizes for answering (we let them play for prize tickets), but you could even just grab a couple of bags of Hershey’s Kisses or other individually wrapped candies and let them play for those as well. Whatever suits your budget and your theme!
Hope you have fun!