Buzzword bingo (also known as bullshit bingo) is a bingo-style game where participants prepare bingo cards with buzzwords and tick them off when they are uttered during an event, such as a meeting or speech. The goal of the game is to tick off a predetermined number of words in a row and then yell "Bingo!" (or "Bullshit!").
Buzzword bingo is generally played in situations where audience members feel that the speaker, in an effort to mask a lack of actual knowledge, is relying too heavily on buzzwords rather than providing relevant details. Business meetings led by guest speakers or notable company personalities from higher up the pay scale are often viewed as a good opportunity for buzzword bingo, as the language used by these speakers often includes predictable references to arcane business concepts, which are perfect for use in the creation of buzzword bingo cards.
An important element of the game is having the courage to actually yell "Bingo!". In order to avoid the reprimands that would likely result from doing so, participants may resort to looking at one another and silently mouthing the word "Bingo". An alternate variation requires the person who has achieved bingo to raise his or her hand and use the word "Bingo" within the context of a comment or question.
An example of a small Buzzword Bingo card:
Creation and popularization
Buzzword Bingo was invented by Peter Calver, and played during lessons at Brentwood School in England c1963. It was later reinvented in 1993 by Silicon Graphics Principal Scientist Tom Davis, in collaboration with Seth Katz. The concept was popularized by a Dilbert comic strip in 1994, in which the characters play during an office meeting.
One documented example occurred when Al Gore, then the Vice President of the United States, known for his liberal use of buzzwords hyping technology, spoke at MIT's 1996 graduation. Hackers had distributed bingo cards containing buzzwords to the graduating class.
In 2007, IBM created a commercial centered around the concept of buzzword bingo.
A similar Concept called a "Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector" first noted in an article in Reader's Digest Magazine in 1966-67. Select a random 3 digit number from 0-9, and apply it to 3 columns, each numbered, and match the chosen number to reveal the corresponding Buzzword. Attributed to Broughton, Philip often referred to as the Broughton Buzz Phrase Projector. Another attribution was given to Nyal Cammack in Planet Source Code Website, self attribution, but suspect plagiarism, as above from Tom Davis and Seth Katz, except perhaps the name, all other functions were in the general domain from the early-mid 1960's.
- "Former envoy makes devastating attack on Blair's 'bullshit bingo' management culture of diplomacy". The Independent. 27 April 2007. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
- Belling, Larry (2000). "Buzzword Bingo". Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- Adams, Scott (22 February 1994). "Dilbert comic for 1994-02-22". Andrew McMeel Publishing. Retrieved 2009-02-14.
- "Al Gore Buzzword Bingo". IHTFP Gallery. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
- IBM commercial – YouTube