Would You Like To Play CALL-er I.D.?

By Scott Vanderlin, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

For those of you who were not able to attend this year’s AALL Annual Meeting in San Antonio, CALL once again had a respectable showing in the ever-important Chapter Showcase section of the Exhibit Hall.  This is prime real estate, and The CALL PR/Internet Committee has made it our mission these past couple of years to make sure everyone who passes by the CALL table leaves with a smile.  As you’ll recall, last year’s CALL display was a big hit with everyone in Seattle.

Actually, speaking of last year’s CALL table, do you know that you won an award for that thing?  That’s right, CALL Member! YOU!US!WE!!!  CALL won a AALL award in the Informational Whimsy-Pun category (officially for “Excellence in Marketing/Best Use of Technology,” but only because of imprecise award categorization).  In San Antonio, I had the honor of accepting this award on behalf of CALL.

Scott Receiving Award
Scott Vanderlin (left, handsome) and 2013-2014 AALL President Steven P. Anderson (right, also handsome)

Since phone puns seemed to be such a crowd-pleaser, I thought I’d dial up another (I literally cannot stop) for this year before that well runs dry.  This time, I decided to highlight our wonderful chapter members with a game I named “CALL-er I.D.”  Anyone familiar with the board game “Guess Who?” will immediately recognize the premise.  You and your opponent both select a card with a mystery face on it.  Players take turns asking appearance-based Yes/No questions to one another (e.g., “Does your person have a beard?”) until one player correctly guesses the identity of the other player’s face card.

Guess Who?
Guess Who?
via flickr user Steve Berry

So, my idea was to do exactly that, except that the “opponent” is an iPad, the faces on the cards are CALL members, and you don’t actually ask the iPad any questions.  So, whatever, it’s not really Guess Who?.  It’s better than Guess Who?.  It’s CALL-er I.D.

My first order of business was getting CALL members on board.  In the weeks leading up to the AALL Annual Meeting, I sent out a series of emails requesting photos and accompanying “fun facts” from our members.  In my email, I was intentionally vague about how these photos would be used, because, quite frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure how it would all come together.

I had an idea in my head of what I wanted to do, but at that point I had not figured out all of the logistics of the CALL-er I.D. project.  Most importantly, I hadn’t actually figured out what program I would use to make my idea come to life (more on that in a moment).  After pestering my fellow CALL members for a couple of weeks, I had enough pictures to proceed with my idea.  The gamification of CALL was officially on.

CALL-er I.D.
CALL-er I.D.
via me

As I mentioned, I still wasn’t sure what software I would use to create the actual game.  This is a pretty important detail to gloss over, I realize, but I figured,  “Look, it’s 2014.  We’re literally putting bricks on floating pillows (finally).  There has to be a way to do this.”

After researching a number of different services that claimed they would do what I wanted them to do, with varying levels of success, I had a Microsoft-inspired Occam’s Razor moment.  Gates’s Razor. Basically, I realized that I should be able to do exactly what I needed to do using an old standby–PowerPoint.  All I really needed to do was to create links between slides that followed the internal logic of the game I would create.  How hard could that be?

**Click for Spoiler**

It turns out that I completely underestimated how challenging it would be to create the logic tree I would need to make this work.  It is easy to create a slide that distinguishes between male and female CALL members.  It is more difficult to create a string of links that lead to the person not wearing glasses, who has curly hair, isn’t wearing a hat, doesn’t have anything in her hands, etc.  This was hubris on my part, and it is a lesson I will carry with me to my internship at Milton Bradley.

Some of the details of the project, while important to me, are not worth discussing here in any detail.  Suffice it to say that there was a decent amount of Photoshopping, PowerPoint animating, and general formatting that needed to be done to make this game presentable.  Fifty-four slides later, I had created something that was actually even better than the idea that I had originally envisioned.

Debbie's Slide

The final step in this process was to transfer the game from PowerPoint on Windows to an iPad for displaying the game in San Antonio.  This also proved to be significantly more difficult than I thought it would be, owing primarily to compatibility issues between iOS apps and the desktop version of PowerPoint.  I eventually decided to use an app called SlideShark, which is a third party presentation app that prides itself on eliminating the conversion issues that are present in many of the other iOS presentation apps, including the branded PowerPoint app.

After the game was transferred to the iPad, everything was in place for another successful CALL promotional table.  With Debbie Ginsberg’s help, the table was set up:

CALL Table


Table close up

In case you decided to skip all of the technical details and jump right to the end, I guess what I’m really trying to say is this–stop by the Member Services booth in Philadelphia to see CALL win its second annual Marketing Award for Best Use of Technology.

For those interested, here is a link to the actual PowerPoint deck that I ended up creating (works best if downloaded and viewed as a slideshow).