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 buzzword bingo card is shown below.
|Risk Management||Off-line||Sales Driven||Penetration||Drop the Ball|
|Benchmark||Proactive||Free Space||Customer Value||R.O.I.|
|Review||Granular||Facilitate||Touch Base||Out of the Loop|
Creation and popularization
It is unclear where the game now known as buzzword bingo originated, as (due to the nature of the simplicity of the game) it has likely been reinvented several times throughout history. The earliest known (purported, but not documented) report of buzzword bingo is rumored to have originated in either 1963 or 1964 by a schoolboy named Peter Calver when he was a pupil at Brentwood School, England. The game was inspired by the catchphrases and mannerisms of one of Calver's schoolmasters who taught Ancient Greek, and was played by Calver and fellow pupils during lessons. At the time, the game was known as "Cluer Bingo" after the schoolmaster (Tom Cluer). It was subsequently reinvented in 1993 by Silicon Graphics principal scientist Tom Davis, in collaboration with Seth Katz. The game finally achieved wild popularity on 22 February 1994, when it was featured in a Dilbert comic strip 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 in enthusiastically promoting technology, spoke at MIT's 1996 graduation. MIT hackers had distributed bingo cards containing buzzwords to the graduating class. Gore, who had been informed of the hack, acknowledged it during his speech.
In 2007, IBM created a TV advertisement that was based on 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". Video gaming website GameSpot hosted a video called "Executive Buzzword Bingo," in which they held a running tally of buzzwords uttered during Sony's "PlayStation Meeting 2013" conference event on 20 February 2013.
- "Former envoy makes devastating attack on Blair's 'bullshit bingo' management culture of diplomacy". The Independent. 27 April 2007. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
- "Buzzword Bingo!". buzzwordbingo.org. 2014-08-18. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
- 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. 1996-06-07. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
- IBM (2008-02-13). "ibm buzzwords bingo". YouTube. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
- GameSpot (2013-02-21). "Executive Buzzword Bingo at the PS4 Conference". YouTube. Retrieved 18 August 2014.