An incredibly fun game to play with friends and/or strangers is Gartic Phone (hyper focusing on “normal mode” since it’s really a game of games). Inarguably, a core aesthetic and appeal of the game is expression, self discovery and “discovery of others” (we call the last one making friends).

In this game(/mode), users initially need to provide a prompt for other users to draw while a timer starts. After that, players either draw the prompt they are given or have to guess what the drawing is all while being under time pressure. In my opinion, the state of being under a time crunch create this challenge dynamic, even though there are no points in the game and no-one wins or loses. Not only are you trying to fit in enough information about the prompt for the next person to be able to guess but you’re also trying to make it funny (more on the latter part later).

In turn, the game’s mechanics thus lead to relying on players’ creativity in terms of what prompts they can give other people and their ability to guess, both affordances that give rise to another dynamic model centered around (self-)expression. This makes the game incredibly fun as almost every player will have a different and unique way of expressing their ideas (again both in drawing and writing).

On one hand, the game also has elements of fellowship (the phone game part) where players are ideally passing on enough information to other players. On the other hand and while not being an aspect that the game itself employs (even though it technically provides the ability for it to exist) is competition. To elaborate, whenever my friends and I play, we like to flip the game on its head and instead work against each other whilst still maintaining to stay within the premise of drawing the prompts. In spirit of self expression and modding the game, we would try to make our drawings reasonably abstract, give extremely weird prompts (of things that are perhaps hard to illustrate by drawing). This also to almost an unspoken competition as to who can make the funniest drawings and prompts, something that gives the game new life after playing for quite a while.

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