For my critical play, I played the party game Assumptions. In each round, an illustration of a character is presented, and all players except for one judge must submit an Assumption card that they believe best fits that character. The judge chooses their favorite Assumption card, and the player who submitted it wins the round. At the end, whoever won the most rounds wins the game.
At the beginning of game play, it felt uncomfortable to play the Assumption cards. It felt like openly breaking a societal rule of not stereotyping. However, as all players started to get into it, the game became more fun and comfortable. Also, the character illustrations are not designed with any level of preventing abuse in mind, many cards fall into typical tropes (ie. cat lady), but the assumptions don’t play into any immediate racist or gendered stereotypes. The assumptions are commonly vulgar or surprising though. Because the basis of the game is making assumptions on appearances, the game is quite open to abuse. While the game doesn’t cross every line, it does cross many of them.
One interesting mechanic of the game is the rule that the character illustration card for each round must be kept a secret to the judge until after the judge has read all the submitted Assumption cards out loud. This encourages the judge to conjure up an image in their head based on the assumptions first, and I had a lot of fun with it. It was fun both as a judge and as a player with an element of surprise for the judge and curiosity for the other players to see how the judge reacts when the card is finally flipped over. We had a bunch of funny and surprised reactions when the character card was revealed.
Finally, I think that the graphic design essence of the game well captured the fun, light-hearted, yet unexpected nature of the game. The character illustrations are all simple sketches that leave room for the imagination. The styling and color choices of the assumptions are red, bold, and in your face. The graphic design reflected the bold choices of making assumptions as a norm of the game.