Writing Games: Continuity and Change in the Design and Development of Quiz Shows in Italy

Massimo Scaglioni, Axel Fiacco

Abstract


As in the United States and in many countries across Europe, the quiz show was a founding genre for Italian television as far back as the 1950s: because of their broad appeal, such game shows as Lascia o raddoppia and Il musichiere contributed strongly to television’s burgeoning popularity during the subsequent decades. Since then, the quiz show has traversed different eras of television history, with partial and gradual changes to its textual features, aesthetics and narratives, as well as its production routines. Since the 1980s, with deregulation and the advent of commercial television, the Italian game-show market has become more international and more reliant on formats. In the genre’s long history, the “hidden profession” of writing TV games exhibits elements of both continuity and change. The needs of format-adaptation have highlighted two main areas of “localization”: question-writing and casting. This essay explores the profession of game-show writer in Italy and how the role has evolved. It adopts a historical framework to illuminate the continuity and change in the profession, in relation to a broader history of both the genre and the television medium, while also seeking to outline both the specificity of the Italian TV context and its connections with an international environment.

 


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