About Survivor and Online Survivor

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SUR101: History and Overview of Survivor

Survivor is the ultimate competition. It is an intense socio-political game created by Mark Burnett. It is classified as a non-cooperative elimination game. "Non-cooperative" indicates that all players within the game must work together while at the same time working against each other. "Elimination" indicates that players will be eliminated 1-by-1, instead of being the first to reach a goal. These games were made popular by John Nash, whose "Non-Cooperative Game Playing Theory", among other works, made him a famous mathematician. His exploits entered pop culture in the movie "A Beautiful Mind".

Although Mark Burnett is credited with the creation of Survivor, the roots of the game trace back to Sweden, and a show named "Expedition: Robinson". The show debuted in 1997, but after 3 years, the production company, Planet 24, was forced to sell the rights. At this time, Mark Burnett bought the rights and, although many rules were similar, modified the format to what is recognized as Survivor today. Despite the fact that Survivor is known as the pioneer of modern reality television, ABC, NBC, and FOX all rejected the concept, a mistake that still haunts them to this day. Burnett's final choice, CBS, bought the rights, and Survivor debuted on CBS on May 31, 2000 to astronomical ratings. Due to its success, a second season started immediately after the Super Bowl in January 2001. Since that time, the series has aired two seasons per year, one from September to December, and another from February to May.

In a standard game of Survivor, 16 people are stranded in a remote location and forced to fend for themselves for 39 days. Contrary to popular belief, they are not always stranded on an island. Many of the seasons have been in other locations, such as deserts, jungles, and beautiful nature reserves. Depending on the location, contestants may be allotted a small amount of food or supplies to start, but they are otherwise left to fend for themselves completely.

Although surviving the elements seems to be the initial concept of the show, this can be misleading. The show's title, "Survivor" relates to being the last person remaining in the game, not to battling the elements. Like any great tournament, the last person standing is called the Survivor.

As for the game itself, every third day, the players must vote one person out of the game. Thus, you must continually convince others that you should remain in the game. Like a great politician, you must outwit the others. Throughout the game, various challenges will surface that allow players to win various luxuries, or protection from being eliminated. Thus, not only must you outwit the others, but you must outplay them as well. The person that outwits and outplays the others the best will inevitably outlast all the others to become the sole survivor, hence the show's slogan, "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast" (In that order, by the way).

This concept has won Mark Burnett and Survivor numerous Emmy awards, including best non-scripted show, best sound, and best host. Survivor has delivered the best ratings for a reality show year after year. Although the ratings may rise or fall from year to year, there is a loyal fan base that always watches the program, and thus the ratings never fall below the core fanbase number. Survivor shows no signs of slowing down to the point of cancelation, and most likely the end will come while it is still on top.

The basics to the game of Survivor have already been described. Survive for 39 days without sustaining injury, malnourishment, or being voted out. The person who remains at the end of the game wins $1,000,000. On the surface, this is a very simple concept, but like any great game, there are numerous other rules and game situations to consider. The following lessons will build the game's structure from the ground up, and eventually delve into the complex strategies that surround the game.

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