Critical Play: Competitive Analysis is an online drawing and guessing game that dramatically resembles the classic game of Pictionary. Players take turns drawing prompts (from three choices) while the rest of the players attempt to guess what the prompt is. The game is played completely online for free. Overall, I would say that my experience with this game was positive, although there were some troublesome moments due to the online format.

One thing that does well is that it sticks to the theme of quick sketches and imperfection across the entire design. The images in the background (shown above) do not look professionally drawn. Even the timer looks like a sketch made in the game. This creates an inviting environment for people that claim “I’m not an artist”. This game isn’t made for professionals. The design shows that it is made for people of all artistic backgrounds!

The game also does an amazing job of adapting to an online environment. First, all communication occurs through the chat, taking away the complications of zoom lag. There are no arguments about who got the right answer first or people shouting over each other. Furthermore, the game diverges from Pictionaries team-based play interaction and instead adopts a multilateral form of competition. This removes the need for team-based conversations, making it easier to compete online. In the chat, viewers can only see incorrect guesses and general comments, while correct guesses are not visible. This resembles the actual Pictionary game as players on the same team can branch off of each other’s answers rather than constantly repeating answers.

Secondly, players can gain more points for guessing the answer quicker, similar to Kahoot. This prevents the rounds from ending as soon as one person gets the answer correct, encouraging players to stay engaged for the entirety of the round.

Due to the online environment, players can easily connect with strangers to start games in public rooms, encouraging play even when you don’t have close friends to play with. Of course, this leads to issues with abuse. There are no verbal restrictions in the chat. While playtesting in a public room, some players were using racial slurs, creating a dangerous environment for users. Of course, there is the option to “vote kick” but this does not kick a user out of the playing room, but only skips their turn. Luckily users have the option to create private rooms for their friends, where they can set expectations. However, this then makes the public rooms obsolete and still unsafe. There are some unofficial rules that players stick to, such as not writing the word out. However, this rule is not enforced and can ruin the gameplay experience when violated.

In terms of marketing, the game is completely free. I think this goes with the theme of amateur drawing fairly well, as art supplies are very expensive. The free platform emphasizes the idea that anyone can be an artist, further promoting inclusion within the artistic community.

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