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
The game now known as Buzzword Bingo was invented in 1963/64 by Peter Calver when he was a pupil at Brentwood School, in England; it was inspired by the catchphrases and mannerisms of a schoolmaster who taught Ancient Greek, and played by Calver and fellow pupils during lessons (at the time it was known as "Cluer Bingo" after the schoolmaster). It was subsequently 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 TV advertisement centered around the concept of buzzword bingo; a 2013 episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Episode 10 of Series 1: "Thanksgiving") began with a game of "Boyle Bingo".
- "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 Innovation Buzzword Bingo – YouTube