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An Open Letter to Antiques Roadshow

I am a huge fan of Antiques Roadshow. As a fan I can't help but notice the huge hole in the market into which a licensed Antiques Roadshow game would fit perfectly. The following is my open letter, to the executive producer of the show, Marsha Bemko.

Dave Beaudoin, Blogger

January 11, 2010

7 Min Read

For those who haven't been exposed to Antiques Roadshow, it is a public television program produced in Boston, MA for WGBH Boston. It is a live action, real life "search quest." People bring their antiques (real and supposed) to the roadshow where professionals and specialists give them interesting information about the history of their piece as well as the prices they could expect to get for them at auction or for insurance purposes.  






Marsha Bemko

Executive Producer

Antiques Roadshow







Dear Ms. Bemko,



I can't help but notice that your place in the detailed-appraisals-of-apparent-junk market is under attack by such usurpers as the new show Pawn Stars. This distresses me. Now is not the time to rest on the laurels of your seven Emmy Awards, but the time to face forward and take bold steps to capture new audiences and bring the fun (yes, fun!) of Antiques Roadshow to your fans like never before. Just as the most unassuming, small-town storefront window may have a limitless number of priceless antiques, an Antiques Roadshow video game could also hold a treasure trove of new ways to entertain, teach, and enrich. You may not think I'm serious about this, but I assure you, a licensed Antiques Roadshow video game has been a long standing personal dream of mine. I intend, over the course of this open letter to make the case for an Antiques Roadshow video game by discussing some of the mechanics, aesthetics, and delivery methods which could virtualize the roadshow experience.


Antiques Roadshow the television show plays to our base needs for history and self worth. Humans are pack animals and as our world flattens and our families spread, the need to hold on to our collective past becomes more necessary on a personal level. As a basic concept, the collecting game mechanic is already very familiar to players. Many games utilize fetch quests or feature collections which can benefit the character with various bonuses. What defines an Antiques Roadshow implementation of this mechanic is that the rules of the collection aren't explicitly stated. As players collect antiques, their worth can hinge on many factors. Scarcity, condition, completeness, and sentimental value all play a role in the worth of an antique. It isn't until you take your collectibles to the Roadshow that you find out what their value is. This additional depth is what moves the familiar collect quest mechanic out of the realm of general gameplay and into the core mechanic of the game.


Imagine a scenario where play starts with a life changing event for the player's character. Perhaps there has been a death in the family and heirlooms must be dispensed. Maybe they've lost their job and received a tidy settlement and the dream of becoming an antiques mogul. Or if we're looking for a more unique hook the options are even less limited: The intro gives us a quick recap of the player's life, touring antique shops with their father, always looking for that one elusive piece to restore the family name and fortune. 


Regardless of how the setup happens the game begins with the player coming into a sum of capital and an inroads to the antiques industry. For the purposes of this dissection I'll focus on just one scenario: The inherited house full of property. The player can examine the property in the house, determining which items they are going to sell or dispose of, and which they are going to take to the Antiques Roadshow. Limiting the number of items a player can turn in not only creates scarcity, but also introduces anxiety as to which items are worth more than others. There could certainly also be a research component to the game with users paying for tips, having items appraised, or by taking clues from other items in close proximity to the items.


Once Items are decided on, the Antiques Roadshow portion of the game kicks in. Players are treated to an abbreviated version of the television show, featuring the items they selected and the Roadshow's team of specialists giving them the professional rundown on what their items are worth. This section could be produced in a couple of ways. Information about items could be given by actual professionals, or accurate information could be given by actors. Additionally, celebrity cameos could be used to add an element of fun to the game as Easter eggs. For example, a relatively worthless cameo could be described by a comedic actor in a humorous manner or a celebrity with real life ties to an item or style of item could be used. These Easter eggs could add an element of comedy to the game while maintaining the educational elements which are a cornerstone of the television program. 


As the game progresses the player finds new opportunities to take items to the Antiques Roadshow and amass their collection of antiques. Introducing a space management system for the permanent collection players would be forced to concentrate on specific items, increasing replay value as they strive to complete new collections. Additional antiques and situations could be presented in the form of downloadable or episodic content. Each download introducing new antiques and new review clips. 

Please don't be mistaken, there are a lot of other factors that go into making this game. The platform are you going to target should be chosen based on any existing demographic information you have about your viewers. The budget should be determined and areas where it intersects the creative process should be identified as well as possible. Determining the basic goal of the game is also critical. Is this going to be a one-to-one version of the show or will liberties be taken to broaden appeal? Once the basic technical and logistical questions are answered work can begin in earnest. I'd hate to do your job for you and I've given you plenty to think about. If you need a design consultant or production manager feel free to give me a call, I'm sure I can free up some time in my schedule to make this the game I know it can be!         Sincerely,         Dave Beaudoin Antiques Roadshow fan, gamer

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