Competitive Analysis: Phrase Frenzy

Phrase Frenzy iPhone app created by Brain Rice Games, LLC!

Phrase Frenzy is a party game for any even number of players in which your phone or tablet is turned into a “hot potato” to be passed around until the timer for the round ends. In the game, players count off alternatingly into two teams, and everyone sits or stands in a circle such that there will always be an opposing player to your left and right. A category of words is chosen, and the game begins. For each word, the player holding the phone/tablet must get their team members to guess the word without saying the word itself or related words. Then, they pass it to the next player, who is always someone from the other team, and it becomes the other team’s turn to guess. If the timer runs out during a player’s turn, then the opposing team gets the point, and the next round begins with that player again.

The fun of this game’s competition comes from the “hot potato” aspect, which lends itself to situations where a player is handed the phone with zero time on it, or with very little time on it. The timer induces a kind of “frenzy ” (hence the name, I guess) or urgency as it ticks down, causing panic in the player and their teammates. The app encourages this kind of frenzy with its timer design choices :  the timer is not shown to the player, and the timer noise speeds up as the timer gets closer to zero. These two aspects are very important for the game’s fun to work well, since the noise causes panic in the players while the timer prevents cheap plays like waiting until the timer is almost up to pass the phone to the other team. Below, you can see a screenshot of the gameplay, where the timer is hidden from the players.

I think this game is unique from other games in this genre primarily because of the hot potato game mechanic and theme. Many games in this genre employ only a single person to get their team members to guess, creating unequal roles and leaving other players with a more minor role for each round. This game relies on every player equally to guess and be guessed, which I think leads to more inclusive and more social fun. In other words, this game gives more of the “fellowship” type of fun than other games in this genre (in my opinion).

I also think that the mechanics of this game do handle abuse pretty well — sometimes when my friends and I play, we get too into the game to care about who is on which team, and everyone is guessing every word. This variation is still fun, placing more emphasis on personal achievement and group speed. I think an interesting thing to change in this game would be to arrange teams more randomly, and not just in an alternating fashion. This would discourage cheap plays and make it so that even if you get a word really fast, your team is not off the hook because the next player might be your teammate, too!

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