You Don't Know Jack (franchise)
|You Don't Know Jack|
|Developer(s)||Berkeley Systems, Jackbox Games, Starsphere Interactive, Iron Galaxy Studios, Webfoot Technologies, Flipside.com, Banana Zinc Team|
|Publisher(s)||Sierra On-Line, THQ, Jackbox Games, Berkeley Systems, SPELGRIM.Com, Majesco Entertainment, TopWare Interactive, Warner Bros. Games, Tsukuda Original, Telltale Publishing|
|Engine||EnElectriGine, Autodesk GameWare|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, PlayStation, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii, Nintendo DS, iOS, Apple TV, Android, OUYA, Roku, Nintendo Switch|
|Release||1995–2000, 2003, 2011 (on physical formats) 1996–2000 (via netshow on Bezerk.com), 2001 (via AMC web game), 2007–2008 (via online beta), 2012 (Facebook), 2013-2018 (Steam)|
You Don't Know Jack is a series of video games developed by Jackbox Games (formerly known as Jellyvision Games) and Berkeley Systems, as well as the title of the first You Don't Know Jack game in the series. You Don't Know Jack, framed as a game show "where high culture and pop culture collide", combines trivia with comedy. While it is primarily a PC and Mac-based franchise with over two dozen releases and compilations for those platforms, there have been a few entries released for consoles: two for the original PlayStation, and the 2011 release which had versions for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS and Wii. In 2012, Jackbox Games developed and published a social version of the game on Facebook with cross-platform versions subsequently released for iOS, Android and Kindle. On November 5, 2013, the majority of the franchise's many volumes and spinoffs were reissued onto Steam by Jackbox Games. On November 18, 2014, You Don’t Know Jack 2015 was released as part of The Jackbox Party Pack on Windows, macOS, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and later Nintendo Switch, iPad, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Nvidia Shield, Apple TV, and Xfinity X1. On October 17, 2018, You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream was released as part of The Jackbox Party Pack 5 for the same platforms as You Don't Know Jack 2015.
In 1991, Jellyvision's former identity, Learn Television, released the award-winning film The Mind's Treasure Chest, which featured lead character Jack Patterson. When Learn Television sought to use new multimedia technologies to create a more active learning experience, the company teamed up with Follett Software Company and developed "That's a Fact, Jack!", a reading motivation CD-ROM game show series covering young adult fiction, targeted to 3rd through 10th graders. The game would give a title for a child to read, and then ask questions related to that title.
Most versions of the game can be played by one, two, or three players. (The game can be played with up to four players on the tabletop version and the console versions of You Don't Know Jack 2011. The 2011 PC version is limited to two players. The Full Stream edition can accommodate up to eight players plus up to 1000 additional "Audience" members). All versions of the game feature the voice of an off-screen host, who reads questions aloud, provides instructions regarding special question types, and pokes fun at the players.
The game usually opens with a green room segment, in which the players are prompted to enter their names and given instructions for play. The audio during this segment includes rehearsing singers, a busy producer, and a harassed studio manager/host. The only graphics are a large "On Air/Stand By" sign in the middle of the screen, visual representations of the players' button assignments, and a box for name entry. On games after Volume 2, on certain days, such as Christmas Eve, or certain times such as a Saturday night, or even during Twilight, the announcer will mention the time of day or the special holiday, and sometimes grumble about the game being played at that time or on that day.
Most versions of You Don't Know Jack offer the choice of playing a 7- or 21-question game; some versions offer only 15 questions (Netshow, LFF, 5th Dementia, Mock 2), and others offer only 13 questions (The Ride), 11 questions (HeadRush, "You Don't Know Jack 2011" and Full Stream), or 7 questions (The Lost Gold). In a 21-question game, there is a brief intermission after the tenth question. Most questions are multiple choice, with some occasional free-entry questions, or mini-games. The Facebook version offers only 5 questions.
In its original format, before each question, one player is given a choice of three categories. Each has a humorous title that has some connection to the topic of the corresponding question. After a short animated introduction, which is often accompanied with a sung jingle about the question number, the host asks the question. Typically, the question is multiple choice, and the first player to "buzz in" and give the correct answer wins the money for that question and gets to choose the next category. If a player answers incorrectly, they lose money, but not before the host wisecracks about it. There are occasionally other question types offered (see below).
In earlier versions' multi-player games, each player is allowed one chance to "screw" an opponent in each half of a full game, or once in an entire short game. Using the "screw" forces the opponent to give an answer to a question within ten seconds. If the player who is "screwed" answers correctly, they win the money while the player who "screwed" them loses money. This basic design has changed slightly in some versions of the game. For example, in the teen spinoff HeadRush, the screws are replaced by pairs of false teeth, so players "bite" their opponent instead. In The Ride, instead of just forcing an opponent to answer, players engage in "FlakJack", where they launch multiple screws into the screen, partially or totally obscuring the question. The player being "screwed" must then answer, even though the question may no longer be readable. In German-language versions of the series, the "screw" is replaced by a "nail" which serves the same purpose.
In You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream, either one or two screws (depending on the total number of players in the game, not counting Audience members) could be awarded in one of two ways: (1) they could be given to the player(s) who gave the fewest correct answers in the "Dis or Dat" round; and (2) to the lowest-scoring player(s) at the break starting Round Two. (Several factors—too numerous to name here—determined how many screws would be awarded in each case, and players could only hold one screw at a time.) Unlike previous versions of the game, screws can affect all other players instead of just one (most notably if they have not yet answered before the screw is activated), and they make the question more difficult to answer for the players instead of forcing the them to answer within a short amount of time. Examples include removing all vowels from the answers, flipping the text upside-down on their devices, making the text of the question and the answers on the player's devices extremely small or large, or bouncing the answers around the screen in the style of a screensaver program. Others include forcing the players to enter a password, scroll through an excessively long "Terms of Service" form, or choosing a new screen name before being able to select an answer.
In the previous games, different category options were worth differing amounts of money, which was revealed after a category was chosen. This amount indicated how difficult the question would be. Amounts initially varied between $1,000, $2,000, & $3,000, and were doubled during the second round of questions. However, early volumes of the series occasionally featured questions hosted by guests spawned from Fiber Optic Field Trips and Celebrity Collect Calls; these were worth $5,000 and appeared as the first question of the second round. Later games in the series opted not to give players three randomly generated categories, instead giving a set number of questions in a set order. Instead of random questions, players 'buzz in' to set the amount of money the question is worth. Values could range from only a few hundred dollars to $10,000 or more.
Some of the volumes have a feature called "Don't Be a Wimp", which is activated if one player has a very large lead. If no one answers a question, the host may deride the leading player, calling on the audience to shout "Don't be a wimp!", and forcing the leader to answer the question.
In some volumes, the host also punishes a player who buzzes in too early; the question disappears, leaving the player with ten seconds to type the answer. For both The Ride and Fifth Dementia, this is replaced by different punishments: the player is forced to pick from a list of four nonsensical answers, all of which are wrong, or both the question and answers are scrambled. This punishment is only triggered if a player buzzes in at the very instant that the question appears on the screen. In those three instances, the player that buzzed in is not permitted to "screw" the other players.
The majority of You Don't Know Jack questions are multiple choice, with four possible choices. Some questions are fill-in-the-blank, requiring a typed response.
Special questions are also played during the game. Each version of You Don't Know Jack has its own different types of special questions, but some of the most common are:
- DisOrDat: Featured in all versions except Vol.1 and Sports, the DisOrDat is only played by one player (except in You Don't Know Jack 2011, OUYA,Roku, Party, and You Don't Know Jack 2015, where the other player(s) can steal the money after a wrong answer, and in You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream, where all players participate), with a 30-second time limit (except in You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream, where players get 5 seconds for each subject). The player is given two categories and seven different subjects, and it is up to the player to determine which category the subject falls under (or, in some cases, whether the subject fits both of the two categories). For example, a player might have to determine if Jay Leno was a daytime or a nighttime talk show host, if orecchiette is a type of pasta or a parasite, or if "Urban" is the name of a Pope or a Britney Spears song. Money is added for every correct answer, and deducted for every wrong answer, as usual; any questions not answered before the 30 seconds expires are treated as wrong, and penalized accordingly.
- Gibberish Questions: Featured in all PC versions except HeadRush, You Don't Know Jack 2011, iOS, OUYA, Party, Roku, and 2015. Players are given a mondegreen: a nonsensical phrase that rhymes with a more common phrase or title. For example, "Pre-empt Tires, Like Crack" could be the gibberish to The Empire Strikes Back. The question has a time limit of 30 seconds, and the first player to buzz in and type the correct answer wins the money. Clues are given as time passes, but the money decreases by 5% of the initial starting value with every 1.5 seconds that elapse. In The Ride, the value decreases steadily over the entire 30 seconds. This question is famous for an Easter egg where if the player types in the phrase "fuck you" ("fuck off" in the UK version), the host will respond in an annoyed way and will either deduct $50,000 from their score or reset their score to $0 (whichever punishment is bigger), may deduct an additional $100,000 from their score, and may change their name. If another player does it, the host responds by chastising that player for a lack of originality, but does not deduct anything from their score or change their name. If a third player does it, the host will declare the game to be over and leave, forcing the software to close out, and if the player presses random keys, the host will say an extra statement regarding that the game is ending regardless of what the player does before closing out the software. This Easter egg varies in later volumes of the game starting with "The 5th Dementia". Instead, the host will respond by deducting $100,000 from the first player that typed the offending answer and replacing the player's spaceship avatar with a barefoot. If another player does it, the host will deduct $2 from that player's score. If a third player does it, the host will declare the game to be over and leave, forcing the software to close out as usual. No additional dialogue from the host is provided from pressing any keys. Furthermore, no name change is given to any of the players. In "The Lost Gold", the host will respond by deducting $52,681 from the first player that typed the offending answer and changing the player's name to "Arschloch". If another player does it, the host will deduct $92,681 from that player's score, but no name change is done. If a third player does it, the host will declare the game to be over and leave, but instead of automatically closing out the software, the host will take the players to a joke minigame, called Gorilla Hunter; you're given six bullets, but there's nothing to shoot at and there's no reload after all six bullets are used up, forcing the players to quit the software manually through the pause menu. In the 2012 Facebook game, the host mocks the player saying that he can say the "nasty words" as well and proceeds to say a lot of them bleeped-out of context; no extra cash is lost other than the normal wrong answer penalty. In Full Stream, after the answer is revealed, Cookie will beam a Easter egg to the device of any players who entered in “fuck you” which explains the history of the easter egg to them, with Cookie assuming they entered it in only for the Easter egg, and like in the Facebook game, no extra money is lost.
- Anagram Questions: These exist only in 5th Dementia and The Lost Gold, and follow the same rules as the Gibberish Questions; however, instead of trying to figure out a rhyme, players must rearrange the letters given into a saying, name, or other group (as in the famous example of "genuine class" being an anagram of "Alec Guinness"). Unlike in other question types requiring a typed-in answer, the answer to an Anagram Question must be spelled exactly right to win the money. This type of question has appeared in the Facebook version, as well, with the difference being the players are given four choices.
- HeadButt: Only existing in HeadRush, these also follow the rules of the Gibberish Questions. Players are given a word equation such as "color of pickles + opposite of night" and have to put it together to form a name or other group (in this case, the color of pickles is "Green", and the opposite of night is "Day", so the answer would be "Green Day").
- Fiber Optic Field Trip: These only exist in Vol.1, Sports, Vol.2, and Movies, and only appear in full-length (21-question) games. A random person is called from out of the phonebook and asked to come up with a trivia question. Fiber Optic Field Trips are initiated during the first half of the game, and the trivia question hosted by the special guest is the first question of the second half.
- Celebrity Collect Call: These exist in Vol.2 only and follow the same basic format as the Fiber Optic Field Trips. The host calls a celebrity who is asked to come up with a question. Celebrities include Tim Allen, Florence Henderson, and Vanessa L. Williams. Sometimes, the conversation between the host and the celebrity lasts a very long time.
- Pub Quiz: This replaces the Fiber Optic Field Trips and Celebrity Collect Calls in the British edition of the game. Instead of calling a random person in a city, the host calls a bartender in a random pub within the UK to host the question.
- Trash Talkin' with Milan: Only existing in HeadRush, "Milan the Janitor" (voiced by Igor Gasowski) hosts a standard multiple choice question about grammar.
- Bug Out: This exists only in 5th Dementia. The goal is simple: Bugs will crawl and display a choice. When you see a choice that does not match the clue, buzz in. In a multiplayer match, if you are right, your opponents pay you money, but if you are wrong, you pay your opponents.
- Fill in the Blank: Instead of having four answers to choose from, you have to type the answer out.
- Sequel Question: Some questions have questions that refer to them and are guaranteed to appear immediately after them. When this happens, all three selectable categories will refer to the sequel question. In The Ride, 5th Dementia, Mock 2, You Don't Know Jack 2011, iOS, Ouya, Party, and You Don't Know Jack 2015 all questions are arranged into 'episodes' whose questions always appear in the same order. This allows for a question to refer to any previous question, and for running jokes to be made. In You Don't Know Jack 2011 as the question sets are set into episodes, you will get questions that are 20 or 30 questions after the first. ('A Harp out of Harp' related to Cookie's party episode.) In Full Stream, there are also Sequel Questions, most notably in a series of questions with a "Special Guest" (see Guest Host Question below). Additionally, in Full Stream, certain series of questions can also trigger a specific post game event, like with the question “This Question Is Computer Generated”, which is followed by Nate Shapiro hosting an episode of Truth-Talk 23/7 after the game.
- Pissed About A Question: A special kind of sequel question. This exists in both Offline volumes. Jellyvision creates new questions about angry letters they have received from irritated players. Each of these question is based upon a letter from a viewer who complained about the previous question.
- Road Kill/Coinkydink: Exists in The Ride (as RoadKill) and Mock 2 (as Coinkydink). In this fast-paced question type, players are given two clues (Such as "Sexy voice" and "Hefty kid"). Several words fly past in rapid succession, and the players must buzz in when the word on the screen connects the two clues in a pair (In this case, the answer is "husky"). At the end of the round, players can earn a bonus for choosing the category which all the correct answers have in common.
- Jack BINGO: Exclusive to The Ride. A five-letter word related to the episode's theme is first given (for example, W-I-M-P-S in an episode about gym class). A clue to an answer is provided, after which the letters in the given word are randomly lit. The contestants are to buzz in when the first letter to the clue's answer is lit. (In the example, the clue may be "SNL's Doug and Wendy ______"; the player rings in when the "W" is lit for the word "Whiner.") $500 and that answer's letter is given to the first player who is correct, and the next clue is given; a $500 penalty is received for wrongly timed responses. The first to collect enough answers to spell out the given word wins the prize declared before the start of this round; it can go unrewarded if nobody finishes the word after a set number of clues.
- ThreeWay: Found only in Vol.3 and the first PlayStation version. Players are given three words that have something in common (for example: solid, liquid, and gas) and several clues that only relate to one of the words (for example, "______ Plumr"). Players must match the clues to the proper words. The possible answers flash up on the screen, and the player must buzz in when the correct answer appears (in this case, "liquid").
- Wendithap'n: This exists in Louder! Faster! Funnier!, Mock 2, The Lost Gold and its German version; You Don't Know Jack VOL.4 (as Wann War Was?) and it follows the same rules as the ThreeWay. The player is given an event (either in pop culture history, or in sequence order) and must decide if several other events occurred before it, after it, or never occurred at all.
- Guest Host Question: Someone else hosts and gives a question. Only appearing in Vol. 3, The Ride & Full Stream, the last of these as a "Special Guest" Question with Jimmy Fallon (which bleeds over into the rest of that particular game).
- Impossible Questions: Only appearing in Vol. 3 and the first PlayStation version, Impossible Questions are worth very large amounts of money, but as the name implies, they are almost always very, very difficult. An example of an Impossible Question is one which asks the players what color eyes the bald guy has on the box of You Don't Know Jack Sports, the number of years between the invention of the can and that of the first practical can opener within a two-year range (high or low), what number between one and nine Cookie is thinking of, or what the third word is in the third scene in the third act of Richard III. In a case of double-bluffing, one question, 'What has four legs, a tail, and barks?', has the category 'It's a Dog!' and the answer 'a dog'. The Lost Gold had a variation of this question as well, not formally named and consisting of Pirate-oriented questions, for example, "What was the name of Blackbeard's Parrot?" This was connected to the game's plot - as explained in the game's introduction, a pirate has been cursed to haunt the game until its players accrue enough 'booty'. The pirate has thus secretly arranged the pirate-themed questions, which he believes are still common knowledge, in an attempt to speed up the process, not realizing how obscure and archaic his knowledge has become.
- Super Audio Question: A sound will play, and the player is asked a question about it.
- Whatshisname Question: In this question, the host is trying to remember a certain name. A clue is provided every few seconds, and the players must buzz in and type the name. In HeadRush, this question type is known as Old Man's Moldy Memories and in You Don't Know Jack 2015 as Foggy Facts with Old Man both featuring the character of "Old Man", voiced by Andy Poland in which he hosts the question.
- Picture Question: Similar to the Super Audio Question, but based on a picture rather than a sound.
- Who's The Dummy?: Exclusive to You Don't Know Jack 2011, iOS, OUYA, Party, and You Don't Know Jack 2015. Cookie Masterson has taken up ventriloquism, and asks a trivia question by way of his ventriloquist dummy, Billy O'Brien (or his sister Betty O'Brien). As the host explains, he has difficulty pronouncing consonant sounds such as B's, P's, and M's (which become D's, T's, and N's, respectively, and are translated as such in the text of the question and the answer choices), which adds a minor layer of difficulty to the question. One such question also appears in Full Stream.
- Cookie's Fortune Cookie Fortunes (with Cookie "Fortune Cookie" Masterson): Exclusive to You Don't Know Jack 2011, iOS, the 2012 Facebook version, OUYA, Party, and You Don't Know Jack 2015, this round appears randomly and includes trivia questions inspired by cliche fortune cookie messages that Cookie receives. For example, the fortune "You have a magnetic personality." leads to a question regarding which metal-based fictional character might be most attracted to him.
- Funky Trash: Exclusive to You Don't Know Jack 2011, iOS, 2012 Facebook version, OUYA, Party, and You Don't Know Jack 2015. In Funky Trash, the host roots through the trash of a famous person, and the players must identify that person by his or her trash. For example, a World War I ambulance driver's license, cigar butts from Cuba, and a can of ointment for 6-toed cats would be clues to Ernest Hemingway.
- It's The Put The Choices Into Order Then Buzz In And See If You Are Right... Question: Exclusive to You Don't Know Jack 2011, iOS, 2012 Facebook, OUYA,Roku, Party, and You Don't Know Jack 2015, the host gives up to four items and the player has to buzz in to the corresponding correct answer. The question is multiple choice, meaning that, technically, the player does not have to put the answers into the right order himself but rather just pick the right order out of the four possibilities. For example, the player might have to determine the order in which the McDonald's Golden Arches, the St. Louis Arch, and the Archie comic book series debuted. Answering correctly awards the player an extra $1,000, however, the extra money is not lost if a player is wrong.
- Nocturnal Admissions (with Cookie Masterson): Exclusive to You Don't Know Jack 2011, the host tells the player about a dream he had, which is based on a movie. The player then has to tell which movie that dream was about. The characters of the movie are replaced by the host's cats and his mother, which often makes it difficult to figure out the correct one. For example, the host tells of a dream in which he transferred his mind into a fake cat body so he could learn the culture of his two cats. He does this to help with his mother's research, but falls into love with the cat world and is therefore attacked by his mother's troops. The correct answer to this dream would be James Cameron's Avatar.
- Wrong Answer of the Game: Not a question in and of itself, the Wrong Answer of the Game appears in the 2011 and 2015 versions of the game, as well as OUYA and Party. Before the beginning of the game, the host announces a satirical sponsor for the episode (similar to You Don't Know Jack: The Ride); If a player manages to buzz in with the wrong answer associated with the sponsor, they win $4,000 (double in Round 2) and a 'prize' from the sponsor, instead of losing cash. For example, in the episode sponsored by 'Blood Co.', answering with the incorrect answer 'Dracula' awards cash and a bucket of human blood.
- Elephant, Mustard, Teddy Roosevelt or Dracula? / Kangaroo, Peanut, Albert Einstein or Uranus? / Octopus, Coffee, Queen Elizabeth or Frankenstein?: First featured in the iOS and 2012 Facebook versions, questions in this category always have the same four answer choices: Elephant, Mustard, Teddy Roosevelt and Dracula. The question is posed in definition form, such as "Could be considered a Bull Moose". The player must decide, of the four answer choices, which one fits the definition. In this case, the answer is Teddy Roosevelt; he ran for President in 1912 as the Progressive Party's candidate, and his party was nicknamed the Bull Moose Party. In You Don't Know Jack 2015, the concept is the same but with Kangaroo, Peanut, Albert Einstein, and Uranus, and in You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream its Octopus, Coffee, Queen Elizabeth, and Frankenstein, which could be either the monster or the Doctor (and is specified in the question's animation).
- Data Mining: Featured only in You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream. A selection of a well-known personality's search history, in the form of queries or statements, are read to the players, who then have to choose the correct person the searches came from. For example, the searches "Directions to get around that track", "Is 'I ain't no' grammatically correct?", and "Why do these bananas taste like [REDACTED]?" would belong to Gwen Stefani (referencing lyrics from her song Hollaback Girl). Data Mining is a spiritual successor of the Funky Trash question type.
- Player's Choice: Featured only in You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream. At a moment of the game, The Binjpipe host asks players, including the audience, to vote between two question categories. The question with the highest percentage of the votes is the question that will be asked. (In case of a 50%/50% tie, the Binjpipe host chooses between the two, presumably at random.) Examples of choices include: "An easy question" or "A hard question", and "A question with airhorns" or "A question ABOUT airhorns".
- Binjpipe Recommends: Featured only in You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream. A question is based on the genre, subject(s) or rating of a movie or TV show that is recommended by Binjpipe, presumably influenced by your prior "viewing choices" as referred to in the question.
The Final Round
The final round of the game, called the Jack Attack in most versions and also known as the HeadRush in HeadRush, is a word association question. The category for this final round—which generally describes the desired correct answers—was determined differently, depending on which version of the game is being played. In earlier versions of the game, this was based on the final selected category; in later versions, the category is selected by the game or pre-assigned to the episode.
In most versions of the game, a word, phrase, or name appears in the middle of the screen, to which the contestant must find an associated word or phrase that fits the overall category. For example, Star Wars might be the associated word, and the correct answer fitting "movie stars" could be Harrison Ford. Other possibilities offered might include actors not in that film, or other objects or concepts related to the film but which are not stars of the movie. For each associated subject, several potential matches appear on screen one-at-a-time for only a few seconds each before disappearing, and only one is correct. The topics and/or potential answers are sometimes humorous.
Players win money ($2,000 in most You Don't Know Jack volumes; $5,000 in HeadRush, $4,000 in You Don't Know Jack 2011 and Roku, $1,000 in the 2012 Facebook edition, and $100, $500, or $1000 in You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream depending on how long it takes the player to press the answer) if they buzz in when the correct match is displayed on the screen. An incorrect guess deducts money from the player's score—not just once, but every time the player buzzes in incorrectly (it is possible to buzz in incorrectly multiple times while the same incorrect answer is shown). Multiple players play simultaneously, playing to the same words. The words that are not matched will be cycled back in once all seven words have been attempted.
Jack Attack ends after either all seven subjects are either (a) matched with the right answer, or (b) attempted twice. The exceptions are the 2012 Facebook edition (the faces of those who did answer correctly are shown) and 2015, where all seven phrases are only shown once.
In You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream, only six subjects are given per "Attack". In each case, the same clue and phrase in the center of the screen is presented to the players, with six associated choices—added two at a time—can all be available at once, and more than one answer can be correct. Players earn money for correct choices and lose money for incorrect choices. The later the players choose their answers, the less money is earned or lost per choice (either $1000, $500, or $100). And since each player answers separately on their device, all players can score—either positively or negatively—on all the answers, but only once per selected answer.
In all version of the game, the running total of each player's score is not shown anywhere on the screen during Jack Attack, and this part of the game is usually accompanied by ominous music or ambient sounds. This creates tension between players because of the uncertainty of ranking, and the unsettling atmosphere.
Game show theme
Throughout the You Don't Know Jack franchise, there has been a running theme of You Don't Know Jack taking place on a self-titled televised game show where the players are the contestants. This idea is shown by satirical fake commercials that can be heard while starting the game, and in most games, after the game has finished (see Commercials).
In You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream, instead of the game taking place on a traditional broadcast TV game show, the game becomes a show hosted on a fictional streaming service called Binjpipe. Between questions, the game navigates through the Binjpipe interface. During the game, a new female host (representing binjpipe) speaks before the game, and hosts some question types like Binjpipe Recommends and Data Mining.
One of the unique features of the game takes place after it has ended. Before you start a new game, you can choose to listen to You Don't Know Jack staff performing parodies of various radio commercials. The commercials vary in absurdity, selling products such as scented suppositories or foreign language cassettes to help you learn how to speak American.
They also featured phony news stories about everyday things. Examples: "Oxygen: Gas of Life? or Secret Military Death-Vapor?" or "People are falling unconscious for 8 hours every night. What is the 'sleeping disease'? Do you have it? Find out tonight."
Most You Don't Know Jack games feature recurring characters like "Chocky the Chipmunk", a breakfast cereal mascot with the catchphrase "Pink and tartie!" or "Xenora: Queen of Battle", a parody of Xena, Warrior Princess that gets involved in overtly erotic situations. Others are "The Movie Ending Phone", "1-800-me4-sale", "Cancer Stick tobacco lip balm", "Momma's Pride Human Breast Milk", "Buster's Bait Shop" and parodies of public service announcements from the fictional "United States Department of Condescending Paternalism".
The first CD-ROM for The Ride features a CD of a selection of these commercials from the previous games in the series. The disc was titled You Don't Hear Jack and has since been released as a separate product on CD. A second disc titled You Don't Hear Jack 2 was released too featuring commercials from newer versions of You Don't Know Jack. Both are available for digital download.
In Full Stream, commercials for Binjpipe are heard during the sign-in screen while players join in the game. In the post game, radio shows are heard instead of commercials.
There have been many different hosts of You Don't Know Jack over the years. The following is a list of hosts and the games they appear in.
- Nate Shapiro (voiced by Harry Gottlieb) – Nate Shapiro was the first host of the series. He hosts Vol. 1, the Netshow, the tabletop game, and hosts for the fourth and final part of You Don't Know Jack: The Ride. He also hosts a post-game radio show known as Truth Talk 23/7 in Full Stream. He is not to be confused with "Nate the Intern" from the Flash incarnation (voiced by Production & SQA Coordinator Nathan Fernald).
- Guy Towers (voiced by Andy Poland) – He appears in Sports, Sports: The NetShow, and the second part of The Ride.
- Buzz Lippman (voiced by Peter B. Spector) – This host has appeared in two versions: Vol. 2 and The Ride, the latter which he only appeared in briefly.
- Cookie Masterson (voiced by Tom Gottlieb) – He is one of the most well-known of the hosts. He originally served as the sign-in host, taking down players' names in the opening green room segments of Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Sports. He hosts Movies, Vol. 3, the Netshow, the first PlayStation version, the first part of The Ride, Offline, You Don't Know Jack 2011, Ouya, iOS, 2012 Facebook version, You Don't Know Jack 2015, and You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream. He also hosted the webshows and daily DisOrDats that appeared on the You Don't Know Jack website from December 2006 through September 2008 (with one special episode in November 2010). Gottlieb was also the announcer for the short-lived You Don't Know Jack TV show in 2001.
- Josh "Schmitty" Schmitstinstein (voiced by Phil Ridarelli) – Josh Schmitstinstein, or "Schmitty", Well known as the host of Quiplash is the most recent of all the American CD-ROM hosts. He hosts in TV, the third part of The Ride, The Netshow, Louder! Faster! Funnier! (a second Offline game), 5th Dementia, Mock 2 (the second PlayStation game), & The Lost Gold. He also hosted one particular question in Cookie's volume of Offline. He also announced the sponsors in the 2011, iOS, and Facebook versions of the game. In Full Stream, he hosts a post-game radio show called You Don’t Know Jack: Oldies Radio.
- Bob (voiced by Andy Poland) – The host of HeadRush.
- Jack Cake (voiced by Paul Kaye) – The host of the only British version of You Don't Know Jack.
- Quizmaster Jack (voiced by Axel Malzacher in Vol. 1 and Kai Taschner in Vol. 2, 3: 'Downward', PlayStation, & 4) – The host of the German volumes.
- Troy Stevens (played by Paul Reubens) – The host of the 2001 You Don't Know Jack TV show. He is the only host whose full physical appearance is known.
This is a list of the You Don't Know Jack games released:
- You Don't Know Jack (Vol.1) – September 12, 1995
- You Don't Know Jack Question Pack – 1996 (You Don't Know Jack Vol. 1 must already be installed to play)
- You Don't Know Jack Sports – September 30, 1996
- You Don't Know Jack Vol.2 – November 30, 1996
- You Don't Know Jack the NetShow – 1996–2000
- You Don't Know Jack Movies – April 30, 1997
- You Don't Know Jack TV – May 9, 1997
- You Don't Know Jack Sports NetShow – 1997
- You Don't Know Jack Vol.3 – October 31, 1997
- Headrush (a teen spin-off game) – April 20, 1998
- You Don't Know Jack (tabletop edition) by Tiger Electronics - 1998
- NOTE: Game came with 500 General Knowledge questions on 125 cards; additional expansion card packs with TV, Movies and Sports themed trivia were also released.
- You Don't Know Jack Vol.4: The Ride – November 30, 1998
- You Don't Know Jack Offline (the best of the NetShow on Disk) – 1999
- You Don't Know Jack (PlayStation, has similarities to Vol.3) – 1999
- You Don't Know Jack Louder! Faster! Funnier! (2nd Offline game) – March 28, 2000
- You Don't Know Jack 5th Dementia (1st Online playable game) – November 1, 2000
- You Don't Know Jack Mock 2 (2nd PlayStation game) – November 1, 2000
- You Don't Know Jack Vol.6: "The Lost Gold" – December 1, 2003
- You Don't Know Jack (Online beta game on the You Don't Know Jack website) – 2006–2008
- You Don't Know Jack – February 8, 2011 
- You Don't Know Jack (iOS) – 2011
- You Don't Know Jack (Facebook) – May 29, 2012 (shut down March 1, 2015)
- You Don't Know Jack (second mobile game) (shut down March 1, 2015)
- iOS - November 8, 2012
- You Dont Know Jack Lite – somewhere in 2012
- You Dont Know Jack (Roku) – somewhere in 2012
- Android - May 19, 2013
- You Don't Know Jack (OUYA) - June 11, 2013
- You Don't Know Jack Party - September 19, 2013
- You Don't Know Jack 2015 (Part of the Jackbox Party Pack) - November 18, 2014 
- You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream (Part of the Jackbox Party Pack 5) - October 17, 2018
There is also UK version, a French version, a Japanese version, and these German versions:
- You Don't Know Jack Vol.1 – carbon copy of U.S. Vol.2 in German
- You Don't Know Jack Vol.2 – carbon copy of U.S. Vol.3 in German
- You Don't Know Jack Vol.3: 'Downward' – carbon copy of U.S. Vol.4 ("The Ride") in German
- You Don't Know Jack (PlayStation)
- You Don't Know Jack Vol.4 – carbon copy of U.S. Vol.6 ("The Lost Gold") in German
There are also several You Don't Know Jack collections, which bundled different games into one box or offered as a single download for online use. These include:
- You Don't Know Jack XL – Vol.1 + additional Question Pack
- You Don't Know Jack XXL – Vol.1 XL + Vol.2
- You Don't Know Jack HUGE: XXXL – Vol.1 + Vol.2 + Vol.3
- You Don't Know Jack The Irreverent Collection – Vol.1 + Vol.2 + Vol.3 + The Ride
- You Don't Know Jack Jack Pack – Sports + TV + Movies
- You Don't Know Jack JUMBO – Vol.1 + Vol.2 + Vol.3 + The Ride + Offline
- You Don't Know Jack 2001 – Both Offline games in one package
- You Don't Know Jack Snack Pack – Vol.1 + TV + Movies + The Ride
- You Don't Know Jack 5th Dementia Party Pack – 2 copies of 5th Dementia
- You Don't Know Jack Quiz Pack – the German Vol. 1 + 2
- You Don't Know Jack Free V! – TV + 2 of the following choices: Vol.1 XL, Vol.2, Vol.3, The Ride, Vol.6, Sports, Movies, HeadRush
- Not Ready for the Future – Vol.1 XL + Vol.2 + Sports, certified not to run on Windows Vista
- The Best of Cookie – Vol.3 + The Ride + Movies
- Mega Pack – Vol.1 XL + Vol.2 + Vol.3 + The Ride + The Lost Gold
- Classic Pack – Vol.1 XL + Vol.2 + Vol.3 + The Ride + The Lost Gold + Sports + Movies + TV + HeadRush
The You Don't Know Jack series shipped 500,000 units by December 1996. Shipments in the United States alone rose to nearly 1 million by February 1998. By 2001, the You Don't Know Jack series had totaled sales of 3.5 million copies. YDKJ sold above 4.5 million copies and drew revenues above $100 million by 2008.
Inside Mac Games named You Don't Know Jack 2 the best puzzle game of 1996. The editors wrote that it "continues the high standards established by Berkeley's breakaway classic". It received a score of 4 out of 5 from MacUser.
You Don't Know Jack Movies was a runner-up for Computer Gaming World's 1997 "Puzzle Game of the Year" award, which ultimately went to Smart Games Challenge 2. The editors called Movies a "hilarious party game", and noted that it "came a close second".
You Don't Know Jack Vol. 3 was the finalist for GameSpot's 1997 "Best Puzzles and Classics Game" award, which ultimately went to Chessmaster 5500. The editors wrote, "[I]f it weren't for the addition of the Threeway question format (which is a complete dud), You Don't Know Jack III would have reached instant-classic status."
You Don't Know Jack: The Ride won Computer Gaming World's award for the best classic game of 1998. The editors wrote, "You Don't Know Jack: The Ride ranks easily as the best since the first of the series found its way into the CGW Hall of Fame. And for that we salute the folks at Berkeley Systems and Jellyvision, game designers who really do know Jack, at least where our funny bones are concerned." It also won the 1998 Spotlight Award for "Best Trivia, Puzzle or Classic Game" from the Game Developers Conference.
You Don't Know Jack: Huge received a score of 4.5 out of 5 from Michael Gowan of Macworld, who wrote that the game "will strain your brain while amusing you with its witty banter and rapid-fire action." In 1998, The Huge collection was named the 48th-best computer game of all time by PC Gamer US, whose editors called it "essential stuff."
During the 2000 presidential election, Sierra On-Line president David Grenewetzki challenged the presidential candidates to play a political version of You Don't Know Jack. The game had been distributed to a few radio stations, and was described as a "litmus test" of the candidates' political knowledge.
You Don't Know Jack also appeared as two books: You Don't Know Jack: The Book and You Don't Know Jack: The TV Book. Both were published in 1998 by Running Press.
There was also a Tiger Electronic Table-top game of You Don't Know Jack, voiced by Nate Shapiro. It featured question cards with a number code on it and a grey button to open a sliding door to show the answers. It was the first game to feature 4 players instead of 3 players. There were also "Sports", "Movies", and "TV" question packs that were sold separately. A standalone handheld version was also released.
An actual television show version of You Don't Know Jack had a brief run on ABC in prime time during the summer of 2001. It starred Paul Reubens (the actor and comedian best known for his character Pee-wee Herman) as over-the-top game show host Troy Stevens, with Tom Gottlieb's 'Cookie' as the announcer. The show lasted only six episodes, as it received very little buzz and most You Don't Know Jack fans weren't even aware of its existence until long after its cancellation. A previous attempt had been made by Telepictures Productions and Warner Bros. Television in 1996, produced by Ron Greenberg in Chicago; this version, intended as a weekday syndicated show, was not picked up (after initial tests and run-throughs necessitated a retooling of the show; Telepictures subsequently chose to drop the project).
After the You Don't Know Jack TV show ended, another show from the makers of You Don't Know Jack called Smush aired on USA Network in late 2001. It was a game of taking two or more words and combining them into one long word. The show started late at night, but was later pushed to later and later times, even up to 3:00 A.M.; until it was eventually canceled.
In 2001, AMC released You Don't Know Jack about MonsterFest, an online game on their website hosted by Schmitty, and the MonsterFest movie marathon was hosted by Clive Barker and Carmen Electra, who gave clues for the game.
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