Thursday, April 2, 2009

Family Feud

So this week I have been playing the "Family Feud" with my classes. I was able to find many questions and their answers from an FAQ on "The Family Feud" video game for the Super Nintendo.

The FAQ listed all 1400 questions and answers from the game. One issue was, however, that these surveys were done among Americans, and as such, some of the questions were so steeped in American culture that the kids would have no idea. For example:
"Name something mothers wear while driving their kids to school"
-Chinese, by and large, don't drive

"Name a public place where women sometimes put on makeup"
-I have not once seen a Chinese woman apply makeup in public that I can remember. I'm not going to count the washroom because that may very well be the only place, and a one answer Family Feud question doesn't work.

"Name something people often say to each other but really don't mean"
-I'm sure the phrases themselves vary by language, and irony and sarcasm also DO vary by culture.
"Name a holiday that ends in the work "Day""

However, there were still several hundred questions, and I didn't even need that many, so there certainly were categories where things worked out fine:
"Name things women find hard to resist"
-Answers: Shopping, Candy/Chocolate, Men, Jewelry, Clothes, Gossip, Money

"Name the smartest animal"

"What's the first thing you do after waking up from a nap?"

There were some other questions, however, where the question was really good, but a few of the answers were too American for the kids to guess. In this case, I would often either just remove an answer, or replace an answer with a more Chinese answer. For example:
"Name something you buy that is almost always white"
-The problem here was a lack of the answer "rice", which frankly is an excellent answer, and the inclusion of the answer "eggs." Eggs in China are all brown, not white. In fact, most of the kids were surprised to hear that all the eggs in the USA are white.

"Name something you do when you wake up"
-Here, "coffee" was an answer that Chinese would never use, and to my surprise, the kids were surprised to see "shower" on the list. They said that they take showers at night instead.

"Name something you use every day"
-In this question, "car" is not as appropriate a response in China as would be "bus" or "bicycle". As a result, if the students said "car" or "bus" or "bicycle" I gave them credit for this answer.

Finally, there was one other problem with some of these questions that could be relatively easily corrected by removing or adding some responses. The problem was this: These questions were all from "Family Feud" on the Super Nintendo... meaning that the questions would be appropriate to 1992/1993 culture. Some examples:

"Name something you might forget in a restaurant"
-While all the answers given in this question still worked today, "purse", "coat", "leave a tip" (which the Chinese kids never guess), "hat", "umbrella", "keys", "glasses", and "take home bag", there was a GLARING absence of "cell phone"

"Name an occupation whose workers deal mostly with strangers"
-I had to remove "telephone operator".

All in all though, the game worked well, and the kids liked it. By the way, the idea for doing this came from Ellis (the other teacher here) wanting to play an April Fool's prank on her students. So we got together to try and plan something together for our classes. We thought of the Family Feud idea and picked out the questions. In class, we combined our classes and had them compete against each other. Then near the end, we pretended to have an argument about something, and were yelling at each other until Ellis finally stormed out of the room. The kids were shocked, haha. Ellis returned 30 seconds later and we shouted "April Fool's!" and gave the kids candy. In retrospect, 30 seconds was a bit long and very awkward. Some of her students started to follow her out to find out what was wrong, and my students were asking me, "What did you do?" In the end, I think that was about the best practical joke we could've done with the students on such short notice without it being either too lame, too obvious, or too terrible.


  1. wowow. at no given time would I had ever guessed how much even a game like this would be sooo different in culture...we just take sooo much for granted. and yes, 30 seconds is an eternity when people don't realize what's going on.
    so all eggs are brown? while there are Some brown eggs here, white is standard. wowow. what u have learned about their culture using the game of Family Feud??? whoa!

  2. TJ,
    Great idea about the Family Feud.

    I was asking Janet about the eggs. Shes says in the larger cities there are both types of eggs at the store, but more brown eggs. Chinese prefer the brown eggs because the feel they taste better and more nutritious. I never notice this while I was there, but I usually was not doing the shopping.

    I usually learn something new about Chinese culture when I read your blog, today is no exception.

    Yeah, practical type jokes. I played one the first time I was in China and received a similar reaction to what you received. So I don't do those types of jokes anymore. Cultural thing, Chinese have a different type of humor.