Virginia Web Developer Hosts Weekly Game Shows On Zoom

May 22, 2020
Originally published on May 23, 2020 5:17 am
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

We've been hearing from Americans each week about how this pandemic has affected their lives, their work, their families and dreams. Today, the story of Ed Conley, a website developer in Alexandria, Va., who's also a member of the Burning Man community. Every summer, he and 67,000 other people trek into Nevada's Black Rock Desert, build a temporary city, have a great time and, a week later, burn it all down. There is no Burning Man this year, but Ed Conley has found a way to keep the flame of Burning Man alive.

(SOUNDBITE OF "PRICE IS RIGHT" THEME)

SIMON: He's hosting weekly game shows on Zoom.

ED CONLEY: The secrets to being a good game show host are that you need to have a good sense of humor. You need to be able to roll with whatever happens, making sure that contestants are getting their answers out fast enough, and the game is moving along.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CONLEY: The next item up for bid on "The Burner Price is Right" is 20 pounds of glitter.

(LAUGHTER)

CONLEY: Twenty pounds of glitter.

SIMON: The idea to use Zoom to play game shows came to him during one of the first times he ever used the platform during his first week staying at home.

CONLEY: Where I was just kind of looking at people, and I was like, you know, if you could, like, lock nine of them in a square in a grid, you could play "Hollywood Squares" on Zoom. So I reached out to friends in the local Burning Man community. And then we kind of put the first show together. So I had different friends be the squares. And then I got two other friends to be the contestants. And we did the show. And people really seemed to enjoy it. I think before it was even over, I was like, we're going to do "Match Game" next.

(SOUNDBITE OF "MATCH GAME" THEME)

CONLEY: Mr. and Mrs. Morton (ph) loved watching "Tiger King" so much that they named their newest son blank. Alex?

ALEX: Well, from what I understand, they're both "Star Trek" fans, so they named him Shere Khan.

(LAUGHTER)

ALEX: It's tigers and space (laughter), right?

(SOUNDBITE OF "MATCH GAME" THEME)

CONLEY: Each game show does have its own logistics. And I probably spend more time on them than I should. I usually build, like, a Photoshop to share during the game. I did that for "Hollywood Squares," "Price is Right" and "Wheel Of Fortune" and "Family Feud." Other games just take a long time coming up with the questions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CONLEY: Everyone in this band has the same last name, but none of them are related.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: I can name it in six notes.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: I can name that tune in three notes.

CONLEY: This week, we played "Name That Tune." So I had to go and find, like, karaoke versions that were close to what the original song sounds like.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CONLEY: All right, name this song in three notes. Here are your three notes.

(SOUNDBITE OF RAMONES SONG, "I WANNA BE SEDATED"

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Oh, man.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: "I Wanna Be Sedated"...

CONLEY: That is correct.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: ...By the Ramones.

CONLEY: "I Wanna Be Sedated."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CONLEY: I will be honest - I get nervous before each game because I want my friends to enjoy it. I want it to have a certain level of good quality. I want to make it fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CONLEY: Let me turn on the randomized computer selector. Bee boo bee boo bee bee boo (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: (Laughter) Go ahead.

CONLEY: I started this just to have something to do with my friends. And it's really become more of a show for the people who are watching - probably usually around, like, 70 or so people. The more people like it, the more you want to keep doing it and giving them something to look forward to. And it gives me something to look forward to. And that's how it's helping me get through quarantine.

SIMON: Ed Conley - he's been hosting game shows for his socially distant friends on Zoom from his home in Alexandria, Va.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.