Jet Lag: The Game

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Jet Lag: The Game
GenreReality competition
Created bySam Denby
Adam Chase
Ben Doyle
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes47
Production
Production companyWendover Productions
Original release
NetworkNebula
ReleaseMay 25, 2022 (2022-05-25) –
present

Jet Lag: The Game is an American travel competition web series produced for the streaming platform Nebula and also released on YouTube. Created in 2022 by Sam Denby, Adam Chase and Ben Doyle, each season features a contest that sends players to achieve a geographical objective in different parts of the world, some of which are inspired by board games.

As of January 2024, the show has been streamed for over one million hours on Nebula.[citation needed] It has also amassed 575,000 subscribers on YouTube and has received over 45 million views on the platform.

Background[edit]

Doyle, Denby and Chase in December 2023

Jet Lag was created by Sam Denby, the founder of Wendover Productions and chief content officer of streaming platform Nebula, with writers Adam Chase and Ben Doyle, all of whom compete each season. The first season was released in May 2022.[1][2]

Jet Lag's format was partially developed during a previous Wendover show, Half as Interesting's Crime Spree, which had Chase and Doyle pursuing Denby as he attempted to break obscure state laws across the United States.[2] Denby has also cited The Amazing Race as "a point of inspiration."[3]

The show is created primarily for streaming on Nebula, whose paying subscribers support its relatively expensive per-video budget. Episodes are released first on Nebula and a week later on YouTube.[3]

Format[edit]

Each season features a game structure unique to the geographic area and transportation modalities available there.[4] The first official season required teams to travel to U.S. states in order to claim a Connect Four–style row or column. Later seasons had the contestants circumnavigate the globe via air travel, play tag across western Europe, drive the vertical length of New Zealand, and compete in a game of capture the flag across increasingly large portions of Japan.[5]

Players must complete challenges in order to earn coins or currency, which provide the ability to continue traveling as well as, in later seasons, purchase power-ups.[2] Most of the seasons have involved challenges that result in players, usually Doyle, becoming drunk.[4] Players may also be subject to curses, which restrict the player's travels (e.g. only being permitted to take transportation leaving on odd minutes of the hour) or adds an undesirable element to the game (e.g. requiring the player to listen to Tom Lehrer's "The Elements" on repeat until they reach the next city).[2]

The logo of "The Snack Zone"

Beginning in season five, Chase and Doyle introduced a recurring segment, "The Snack Zone", in which they offer pithy reviews of food items unique to their locality. The following season, Denby and his guest, Strange Parts creator Scotty Allen, spun off a competing snack-based segment, "Choo Choo Chew".[4]

Team format changes across seasons. In the Tag Across Europe and Switzerland (Hide + Seek) series, two of the trio form a team, while the other member is on their own, rotating out when the objective has been met. In other seasons the trio are often joined by another internet personality, often other Nebula educational content creators; Chase and Doyle compete as their own team while Denby allies with the guest. Guests include Joseph Pisenti (S2), Toby Hendy (S5), Brian McManus (S1&4), Scotty Allen (S6), and Michelle Khare (S8).[6]

Production[edit]

Filming locations are chosen based on the availability of "strong, frequent, reliable, or semi-reliable, public transportation", according to Denby; while seasons have taken place partially or completely using cars, the team felt they lacked the strategic intrigue of public transit.[4]

Jet Lag is filmed using iPhone 13 Pros and Røde lavalier microphones, a configuration that Denby says allows the competitors to focus on creating content rather than cinematography.[3]

To address the climate impacts of the show's use of air travel, Wendover purchases Gold Standard carbon offsets worth ten times the show's estimated emissions. "We knew from the get go that we would get some criticism for what is clearly somewhat frivolous travel", Denby told The Globe and Mail.[7]

A companion podcast, The Layover, discusses game design and production details from a behind-the-scenes perspective. It is exclusive to Nebula subscribers.[8] It began after two video versions that were released after seasons 3 and 4.[9][10] A video containing outtakes was released after the end of season 8.[11]

Reception[edit]

The show was nominated in the editing category of the 13th Streamy Awards.[12] As of October 2023, the show has been streamed for more than 1 million hours on Nebula and has accumulated 561,000 YouTube subscribers.[13][14]

Seasons[edit]

Jet Lag: The Game has released eight seasons,[6][15][16] with a ninth to premiere on February 28, 2024.

Seasons of Jet Lag: The Game
SeasonTitleEpisodesOriginally airedLocationGuestWinner(s)Game
First airedLast aired
1Connect 4 Across America3May 25, 2022 (2022-05-25)June 9, 2022 (2022-06-09)United StatesBrian McManusSam Denby & Brian McManusConnect Four via "claiming" US states
2Circumnavigation5June 29, 2022 (2022-06-29)August 3, 2022 (2022-08-03)EarthJoseph PisentiAdam Chase & Ben DoyleRace to circumnavigate the world
3Tag EUR It7September 7, 2022 (2022-09-07)October 19, 2022 (2022-10-19)Western EuropeAdam ChaseA game of tag across Western Europe
4Battle 4 America5December 7, 2022 (2022-12-07)January 11, 2023 (2023-01-11)United StatesBrian McManusAdam Chase & Ben Doyle"Claim" the most US states before time runs out
5Race to the End of the World8March 1, 2023 (2023-03-01)April 19, 2023 (2023-04-19)New ZealandToby HendySam Denby & Toby HendyDrive the length of New Zealand, unlocking paths via challenges
6Capture The Flag7May 31, 2023 (2023-05-31)July 12, 2023 (2023-07-12)JapanScotty AllenAdam Chase & Ben DoyleA three-round game of capture the flag across Japan, starting in Tokyo
7Tag EUR It 26September 6, 2023 (2023-09-06)October 11, 2023 (2023-10-11)Western EuropeBen DoyleA game of tag across Western Europe
8Arctic Escape6December 13, 2023 (2023-12-13)January 17, 2024 (2024-01-17)United StatesMichelle KhareSam Denby & Michelle KhareA race from Utqiagvik, Alaska to Key West, Florida
9Hide + SeekTBAFebruary 28, 2024 (2024-02-28)TBASwitzerlandA game of hide-and-seek across Switzerland

Season 1: Connect 4 Across America[edit]

Season 1 concluded in front of the Montana State Capitol in Helena.

Starting at Chicago O'Hare Airport, Denby and Brian McManus (host of the YouTube channel Real Engineering) compete against Chase and Doyle to claim US states from the 22 west of the Mississippi River in a game of geographical Connect 4; the goal is to claim 4 states in a row on a direct east-west or north-south line. Teams must travel to their target state's capitol building, draw a challenge card at random, then successfully complete it within the state to claim it for their team.

By the end of the game, Chase and Doyle had claimed (among other states) Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming, whereas Denby and McManus had claimed California, Nevada, and Idaho. Both teams ultimately converged on Helena, Montana to complete their line of four states, with Denby and McManus drawing a card that allowed them to claim the state immediately, thereby connecting four states and winning the game.

Season 2: Circumnavigation[edit]

Season 2 began and ended at the flagpole in front of Denver Union Station.

Starting and finishing at Denver Union Station in Denver, Colorado, Denby and Joseph Pisenti (host of the YouTube channel RealLifeLore) compete against Chase and Doyle to be the first to circumnavigate the world. In order to count as a circumnavigation, each team must travel at least 22,858 mi (36,786 km) and cross all meridians. Teams started with a US$1,000 travel budget and could earn more by completing challenges selected from a deck of cards. Once a team completed a challenge, the same challenge cannot be completed by the opposing team. To encourage onward travel, the second challenge completed within a 300 mi (480 km) radius is worth half the stated value, and any subsequent challenge is worth one quarter of its stated value.

During the game, though the two teams took different routes across the world, they both reached Singapore at about the same time. Here, both teams had their eyes on some of the same challenges, and Chase and Doyle succeeded in completing several of these before Denby and Pisenti were able to do so. Denby and Pisenti got stranded in Singapore due to an inadequate budget to travel on, while Chase and Doyle were able to make the journey to Los Angeles through Sydney and Fiji, eventually reaching Denver Union Station and winning the game.

Season 3: Tag EUR It[edit]

Season 3 began at the Place Ducale in Charleville-Mézières.

Denby, Chase and Doyle play a game of tag beginning at the Place Ducale in Charleville-Mézières, France. Taking turns being "it", the runner must attempt to reach their destination: Zermatt, Switzerland for Denby, Jersey for Chase, and Borkum, Germany for Doyle. After 45 minutes the other two players begin to chase the runner with the goal of tagging them. The chasers can track the runner using GPS tracking. The runner must complete challenges drawn randomly from a deck of cards in order to earn coins, which are then used to purchase transport with the cost based on time and mode. The runner can veto any challenge (refuse to complete it) at the cost of a 30-minute penalty, during which they may only move on foot and cannot draw new challenges. They can also purchase power-ups, such as doubling the coin value (and the veto penalty) of the next challenge drawn. A player wins instantly once they reach their destination. In the event that no player has reached their destination after 72 hours, the winner is determined by whoever's destination is closest to the current runner.[2] As a visual aid to the viewers, this is represented by a large circle on the map of Europe drawn between the three runners' destinations, with Charleville-Mézières at its approximate center. The circle is subdivided into three color-coded sectors, which are referred to as the players' "win areas".

Towards the end of the game, Chase, the runner at the time, made his way to the Champagne-Ardenne TGV station in Bezannes, France, a meager 3 mi (4.8 km) into his win area. Chase, knowing that time in the game was running out, immediately ventured out into the surrounding countryside to make it difficult for the chasers to reach him. Denby and Doyle, taking a taxi, managed to catch Chase and tag him, but since there was not enough time for Doyle as the new runner to escape Chase's win area, the game ended with a victory for Chase.

Season 4: Battle 4 America[edit]

Season 4 concluded shortly after Chase and Doyle reached Ketchikan, Alaska.

Starting in Times Square, New York, Denby and Brian McManus, returning as a guest for the first time since Season 1, compete against Chase and Doyle to claim the most US states (plus the District of Columbia) in four days. Both teams have a travel budget of $3,000, with an extra $1,000 added at the beginning of each day. Each team initially draws a hand of seven cards, each containing a challenge. To claim a state, they must complete the challenge on one of their cards while in the state; once the challenge is completed, the card is discarded and a new card is drawn to replace it. Each challenge completed also comes with a number of tokens which can be used to purchase power-ups, such as the ability to swap two cards with the opposing team or cross into another state by car, which is otherwise only allowed through a flight or public transportation. A team can steal a state from the opposing team provided they have claimed two bordering states by challenging the opposing team to a battle. After a 30-minute warning, a competitive challenge is drawn from a separate deck; the winner of the challenge is awarded the state and the opposing team cannot challenge for the state again. At the end of the four days, each team earns one point for every state they hold, with a two-point area bonus awarded to the team that holds the largest land area; the team with the most points is the winner.

Denby and McManus, losing a battle challenge for Maryland early in the game and gradually trailing in the number of claimed states in general, decided to base their strategy around obtaining the two-point area bonus, claiming the large states of Texas and California. After competing with Chase and Doyle to claim Arizona, Denby and McManus initiated a battle challenge for the Chase and Doyle-held state of Nevada, which would have tied the game in the event that Denby and McManus succeeded. The result of this challenge was decided by popular vote on Twitter, which Chase and Doyle won. Chase and Doyle eventually flew to claim the state of Alaska, putting the two-point area bonus firmly out of reach of Denby and McManus, who acknowledged their defeat soon afterward.

Season 5: Race to the End of the World[edit]

Toby Hendy was the guest competitor for season 5.

Starting in Cape Reinga (the most northern point of New Zealand) Denby and Toby Hendy compete against Chase and Doyle driving cars to be the first to reach Lookout Point in Bluff in the far south of the country. Teams must complete set challenges to unlock roadblocks placed across the state highway network. Once one team has completed the challenge, the roadblock is cleared for both teams. Teams may veto a challenge but must wait a predetermined amount of time before the roadblock opens; some roadblocks cannot be vetoed and force the team onto a longer diversion route. The winner of the challenge is awarded a number of coins which they can use to purchase power-ups, such as the ability to skip roadblocks, place down roadblocks to slow down the other team, place a curse on the other team, or purchase a Nerf dart which if it successfully hits an opposing team member forces them to serve a 30-minute penalty.

Denby and Hendy were able to take the first ferry across the Cook Strait between Wellington and Picton, building up a several hour lead over Chase and Doyle, but their ferry left Wellington late and took longer than usual to dock so they had less of a head start to the South Island. Even though Chase and Doyle managed to draw a curse card that forced their opponents onto a less efficient route in the southern half of South Island, Denby and Hendy were able to reach Lookout Point first, winning the game.

Season 6: Capture the Flag Across Japan[edit]

Every round of season 6 started in the forecourt of Tokyo Station.

Starting at Tokyo Station, Denby and Scotty Allen (host of the YouTube channel Strange Parts) compete against Chase and Doyle in a game of capture the flag across Japan. Each team must attempt to capture the opponents' flags and bring it back to their own territory without being caught. The flag locations are vending machines and the flag is represented by an item purchased from that vending machine. To travel in the opponent's territory, team members must complete challenges drawn randomly from a deck of cards in order to earn coins, which are then used to purchase transport. If a team member is caught, they forfeit all their coins to the opposition and are sent back to Tokyo Station, where they must serve a 30-minute penalty before resuming the game. The teams can also place "towers" which affect a certain radius around the location they are placed and force opposing players within that radius into a certain restriction: for example, only being allowed to move while carrying pizza or only being allowed to walk sideways.

The game was divided into three rounds, worth one, two, and three points respectively, with each round covering a progressively larger area of Japan. Chase and Doyle won the first two rounds, but Denby and Allen won the third, putting both teams at an even three points and forcing the game to go into a sudden death tiebreaker round. In the bonus round, the players were not allowed to place towers, and instead competed in a best-of-seven format to collect flags in Tokyo itself. Chase and Doyle were able to outmaneuver Denby and Allen to win the game, prevailing in the bonus round by a score of four collected flags to one.

Season 7: Tag EUR It 2[edit]

Ben Doyle secured his win in season 7 by stranding himself and the chasers in the town of Bar-le-Duc.

Denby, Chase and Doyle repeat the game format from season 3, but with the player destinations rotated: Denby this time is aiming for Jersey, Chase for Borkum, Germany, and Doyle for Zermatt, Switzerland.

In the final episode, Doyle, the runner at the time, arrived in Metz. Initially intending to take a train to Nancy, Doyle noticed an infrequent train to the small town of Bar-le-Duc, relatively deep into his win area. Doyle knew that if he could make this connection without the chasers boarding the same train, then the next runner would not have a way to get out of his win area before the game ended. Before Doyle could board this train, Denby and Chase arrived at Metz train station and frantically searched the entire building for Doyle, who hid from the chasers in a photo booth and ultimately managed to make the connection. When the chasers caught up with Doyle in Bar-le-Duc, they declared him the winner of the season.

Season 8: Arctic Escape[edit]

Michelle Khare was the guest competitor in season 8.

Starting in the northern extreme of the United States in Utqiagvik, Alaska, Denby and Michelle Khare compete against Chase and Doyle to be the first to reach the southernmost point of the continental United States in Key West, Florida. Teams complete challenges selected from a common pool called the flop to earn tickets, which allows them to take a specified form of transportation (plane, train, or rental car) with restrictions on distance and destination. There are challenges in the flop which, if completed, allow the team to steal a ticket from the other team. There are four challenges in the flop at any time, with a new challenge drawn once a challenge is completed, and the entire flop replaced at the beginning of each day. Each team may hold three tickets at a time.

After winning the first challenge of the game as judged by popular vote on Twitter, Denby and Khare were the first to leave Utqiagvik as well as Alaska as a whole, building up a lead over Chase and Doyle early in the game. After all traveling through Seattle, Denby and Khare took a route including Boise, Idaho; Montrose, Colorado, and Dallas, while Chase and Doyle went through the cities of Milwaukee, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. Twice in the game, Denby and Khare were able to complete a challenge to steal a ticket from Chase and Doyle, which ultimately contributed to their victory. Denby and Khare were able to reach Key West while Chase and Doyle were still in Atlanta, Georgia.

Season 9: Hide + Seek[edit]

Season 9 was announced on January 17, 2024 after the season 8 finale.[17] It will take place in Switzerland and is scheduled to premiere on February 28, 2024. Season 9 is going to be a 3-person game with rotating positions, similar to seasons 3 and 7.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gutelle, Sam (September 28, 2023). "TierZoo, Lindsay Ellis headline "dynamic" original content slate at streaming hub Nebula". Tubefilter. Archived from the original on November 8, 2023. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e Walker, John (July 14, 2023). "These YouTubers Turned Planet Earth Into A Board Game". Kotaku. Archived from the original on November 8, 2023. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c Anderson, Pearse. "This Travel Game Takes Connect Four to the Extreme". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Archived from the original on June 10, 2023. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d Maas, Jennifer (October 19, 2023). "Inside Hit Web Travel Competition 'Jet Lag': Team Reveals Where They Can't Film, Why They Won't Leave Indie Platform Nebula for Big Streamer". Variety. Archived from the original on November 9, 2023. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  5. ^ Mizell, Destiny (July 18, 2023). "Seasons of "Jet Lag: The Game" in order from worst to best". Sidelines. Archived from the original on November 8, 2023. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  6. ^ a b Maas, Jennifer (October 23, 2023). "'Jet Lag: The Game' Season 8 Set at Nebula With 'Challenge Accepted' Star Michelle Khare as Guest Contestant (Exclusive)". Variety. Archived from the original on November 4, 2023. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  7. ^ Griffiths, James (September 16, 2022). "Are travel-centric reality shows like The Amazing Race worth their carbon footprint?". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on April 20, 2023. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  8. ^ "The Layover - Jet Lag: The Game". Nebula. Archived from the original on November 9, 2023. Retrieved November 8, 2023.
  9. ^ Jet Lag: The Game (October 26, 2022), Jet Lag: The Layover (Season 3), retrieved January 26, 2024
  10. ^ Jet Lag: The Game (January 11, 2023), Jet Lag: The Layover (Season 4), retrieved January 26, 2024
  11. ^ Jet Lag: The Game (January 24, 2024), Jet Lag: The Outtakes — Everything We Cut From Season 8, retrieved January 26, 2024
  12. ^ Iasimone, Ashley (July 24, 2023). "2023 Streamy Awards Nominations Announced: Full List". Billboard. Archived from the original on August 28, 2023. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  13. ^ Maas, Jennifer (October 11, 2023). "'Jet Lag: The Game' Hosts on How a 'Strategic Blunder' and 'Two of the Rarest Moments' in the Entire Series Led to Season 7 Finale Twist". Variety. Archived from the original on October 31, 2023. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  14. ^ Nebula (September 15, 2023). "Nebula on X: "Congratulations to @jetlagthegame on hitting 1,000,000 hours streamed on Nebula✈️🎉". X (formerly Twitter). Retrieved December 8, 2023.
  15. ^ "Jet Lag: The Game". Nebula. Archived from the original on November 8, 2023. Retrieved October 24, 2023.
  16. ^ "Jet Lag: The Game Seasons". Nebula. Archived from the original on December 1, 2023. Retrieved November 28, 2023.
  17. ^ "Jet Lag: The Game Episode 8x6". January 17, 2024. Archived from the original on January 17, 2024. Retrieved January 17, 2024.

External links[edit]