Critical Play


Our team recently changed our game to include an aspect of pop-culture knowledge and, specifically knowledge about celebrities. To see how other games engage this topic, I playtested the game “Celebrity” with friends.

“Celebrity” is a variant of the game charades. The theme of the game is a guessing game. The game can be a bi-lateral or multi-lateral competition, depending on the number of players (typically there are 2-4 teams, each of which has to have 2+ players).

It is not a game that is manufactured by a certain company, but it can be played online in an interface called “HatGame” where players can input all of the celebrity names and the program draws names out of the “hat” at random. The game Time’s Up! – The Celebrity Charades Game, by R&R Games is also a very similar premise.


Mechanics & Fun

Procedure- Each team selects a player to give clues, while the rest of the team guesses. Play begins when the clue-giver picks a name out of the hat. They then have one minute to get their team to guess as many celebrity names as possible before time runs out.

Rules-  Unlike charades, when giving clues in Celebrity, the players can say verbal sentences that would help the guesses identify the celeb. However, they may not say any part of the celebrity’s name or a direct reference to the name. (e.g. if the celebrity was Barack Obama you could not say “ObamaCare”)

This game is mostly social fun, there isn’t much make-believe or narrative or obstacle to it.  I played Celebrity with just writing names and pulling them out of a hat, but we can look at Time’s Up! – The Celebrity Charades Game to gauge how graphic design plays into the creation of social fun.

Design and Abuse

The game has extremely simple design, each card only has small text with the name on it. This might emphasize that the fun is really in the interpersonal interactions instead of the cards themselves. The main “theme” that comes through is “Time’s Up”, not the theme of celebrities, because the company makes other similar packs of charades with different themes. I think this is a weak point because the graphics aren’t helping you to get more into the game.


I think this game only really differentiates from other guessing games because of the specificity of the content: you’re only guessing celebs, no other categories. The game doesn’t really handle any kind of abuse, I think this is a big missed opportunity because with a game like this there is so much room for people to be using stereotypes and/or for the celebs to have done problematic things.



  • Relate the game design more to the overall theme
  • Have pictures of the celebs, not just names on the game cards, to make the game more accessible
  • Maybe have more rules around what kinds of clues are appropriate or not.


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