Critical Play: Competitive Analysis (Drawasaurus)

Drawasaurus is an online game that takes the key mechanics of Pictionary (drawing images from prompts while other players guess what the prompts are) and adapts them to an online format. While I tend to enjoy drawing games, playing Drawasaurus was an overwhelmingly negative experience for me. The website design is hard to look at, the rules are simple and yet not laid out in an understandable way, and there are no real ways to prevent cheating. There are various other problems that made the game hard for me to enjoy, and I’ll get into them as I break down how exactly the game works.

The game starts out with an aesthetic that seems to be geared towards children (bright purple is the main color, along with a bubbly letter font). The theme is not immediately discernible from the game’s main page, but becomes clear when you join a game.

The game’s home page
One of the game’s rooms

It is immediately obvious that the game is a Pictionary clone, but rather than using teams, the game pits individual players against one another, giving points to the drawer when someone correctly guesses their picture and to the guesser when they guess correctly. In the chat box, each player is able to see incorrect guesses, but correct guesses are hidden. You are also given the number of letters that are in the prompt being drawn. While the rules are pretty intuitive, I couldn’t actually find a place on the website where the rules are explicitly stated, which would be useful for understanding how exactly the scoring system works.

Dropping teams for individual players impacts the game in multiple ways. It allows for fast matchmaking and eliminates the need for team communication, which makes the game fit the online format much better than Pictionary would. However, this also means that when playing with random players, players can join or leave a game at any moment in the game, which makes the scoring system seem a little pointless. When the players are constantly changing throughout the game, any sense of competition is lost. This means that any fun from the challenge of beating other players is lost, so the game must rely completely on the enjoyment from drawing and guessing pictures to provide a sense of fun.

However, this piece of the game also falls short of expectations. As I mentioned, the aesthetics of the canvas and the peripherals, which can be seen in the game room picture above, are not very pleasing. This, coupled with the difficulty of drawing something on a laptop trackpad (which I am using to play this game) makes the game visually unappealing. The random matchmaking also means that gameplay experience can vary wildly between games, with players cheating (by drawing letters and/or words) or drawing intentionally obscure images.

Overall, this game fell short of expectations, and could be improved through better visuals, a clear rulebook, a different matchmaking system that encourages actual competition, and a more comprehensive way of preventing cheaters.







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