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Me vs 1 vs 100

Susan Arendt | 25 Jun 2009 21:00
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After several days of this new routine, I discovered that I wasn't playing the real version of the game. The Live episodes, which happened at scheduled times over the weekend, were where The One really faced off against The Mob. They were where the real action was. I nervously waited in the lobby as the message "Choosing The One and The Mob" appeared in the corner of my screen, hoping to find my avatar up on stage with the other lucky few. But my wish was never fulfilled. Round after round, I was sent to The Crowd, just another anonymous face in a sea of would-be contestants. It was still fun, but lacking the chance for trivia glory that I craved. I kept playing, but my enthusiasm diminished ever so slightly every time I wasn't chosen to be on the stage.

Then I learned that playing in The Crowd actually increased your chances of being selected for The Mob. "Answer quickly, answer correctly, and play often!" was host Chris Cashman's mantra. Well, that changed everything! I wasn't just playing for fun, or to pass the time, I had a goal: to improve my stats to the point that I'd be a shoe-in for the main stage. And so I kept playing, round after round, game after game. I still wasn't getting picked, but I consoled myself with the knowledge that every game I played, I was that much closer to being chosen.

Now, I'm not so sure.

My suspicions began when I saw the same avatars populating The Mob over and over and over again, but I chalked that up to a technological issue. The game is still in beta, after all, and I'd seen plenty of random glitches, like avatar clones in the Crowd with me. I figured the tech was just filling in blanks as best it could while folks on the back end figured out how to fill the seats with everyone's actual avatars. When I thought I saw a few repeats in The One slot, I wrote that off as people just having similar avatars. I didn't usually make note of players' names, so it was entirely possible that a lot of players just really, really like the skull face paint.

But a quick tour of the 1 vs. 100 forums on Xbox.com revealed that more than one player had been chosen for The Mob several times - some even said they had made it into The Mob every single time they played. It doesn't necessarily prove anything, but it makes me feel a lot less excited about participating in the game. My accuracy hovers around 80% and my response time is less than a second, but apparently I need some additional kind of magic mojo to be deemed worthy to be in The Mob. Let's not even talk about The One - that's a long shot even if you assume everything's fair and square, but if the same people are being selected on a regular basis? Forget it.

I want to give 1 vs. 100 the benefit of the doubt and believe that these issues will be fixed long before the game ever goes live, I really do. I want it to work. If it does, it's a great middle ground between hardcore players and casual, a party game where shouting out from the sidelines is just as important as hitting the button, a chance for those who wouldn't ordinarily have a prayer of topping leaderboards to publicly display their might.

There's another Live game scheduled for tomorrow night, and in spite of my concerns, I'm planning on being there. Call me naïve if you like, but I'm still holding out hope that one of these days, the stars will align and I'll wind up in the spotlight of 1 vs. 100. If you're not busy around 10pm Eastern tomorrow, sign in and join me.

Susan Arendt scored massive bonus points for knowing Duran Duran's bass player, and still can't believe anyone got the parachute question wrong.

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