I’ve always loved game shows, dating all the way back to Nickelodeon’s heyday with Legends of the Hidden Temple and Double Dare. (I even got to go on Wild & Crazy Kids when I was eight. It wasn’t televised, so magazine writing is my late-life grab at a claim to fame.) As I grew older and more sophisticated I fell into classics like Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, and of course the very cerebral Supermarket Sweep — seeing how much ham and cough syrup you can stuff into a shopping cart in 40 seconds is a thinking man’s game.

When my girlfriend’s brother-in-law told me that a new place in Golden Valley would let you go and be in a life-like game show experience, I let everyone know we had to do it or I wouldn’t shut up about it.

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David Sauer and Kevin Letnes founded Game Show Battle Rooms last year, the latest in their collection of experience-based entertainment businesses. “They’re the new trend,” David told me. “Our pedal pub and escape room have shown us that people love hands-on fun. With Game Show Battle Rooms, our guests get to do something they otherwise never might have — who has time to fly to Hollywood just for a slim chance at hugging Drew Carey?”

Game Show Battle Rooms offers two different one hour experiences, each split into three subsections based on popular game shows. New Age Frenzy has Minute Games, Million $ Trivia, and Wheel of Phrases, while Classic Showdowns has Friendly Feud, Name that Price, and Wheel of Phrases as well. We opted for the classics, because we are classy people.

At the beginning of Game Show Battle Rooms you are sat down to learn the rules and glare menacingly at the other team. I was late, so I didn’t hear all the rules, but was assured it would all be very straightforward anyway. This also meant I couldn’t pick our team’s name, but I didn’t object to being part of “The Winners.”

After the brief orientation we were ushered into a game show set sans the cameras and theater seating. I felt like I was in CBS Television City, with all its pageantry and music, and I admit I felt a touch of needless stage fright. Even if I wasn’t playing for fame or money, doing it without looking like a 24 karat doofus was motivation enough.

First up was Wheel of Phrases. I was unlucky and spun the wheel’s equivalent of “Bankrupt” twice, making me very popular with my teammates. I did get a letter up there, once, which felt like quite an accomplishment. We lost Wheel of Phrases, but the charismatic red blazered, rainbow bowetied host told us not to worry about it.

Next we tackled Friendly Feud. I don’t know who they polled, because none of my thoughtful answers were on the surveys. Do so few people yell “BAD!” at their dogs that it doesn’t even register as one of the top five things you might say to your dog? Have all of my dogs been abnormally rowdy? This is why Game Show Battle Rooms is good entertainment: It is fun, but it makes you think, too. At this point they brought out comically oversized foam cowboy hats for us to wear, too, so the merits kept adding up.

Name that Price was the closer. Fortunately I was in the company of people with a sound grasp of shopping and reality, because my team trounced the other at affixing prices to baby toys and TV dinners. The coup de grâce was their version of Plinko, a towering quincunx which we took turns climbing a ladder for. Here my TV watching experience paid off, because my masterfully dropped pucks went into the valuable slots like heat seeking missiles. It was my finesse and skill that won my team the whole shooting match. They can’t prove it didn’t.

Game Show Battle Rooms is a blast, perfect for small or large groups, and certain to foster a spirit of healthy competition while wearing giant foam cowboy hats. This is the only place in the country where you can do something like this — Golden Valley is ground zero for this singular breed of family fun. I highly recommend going to gameshowbattlerooms.com so you can book your room and live the dream. It’s the next best thing there is to winning real money.


By David Scheller