The game I chose today is Skribble.io, and it is made by @ticedev. The game is available in browser. I think its target audience is intentionally as broad as possible. In reality, it probably heavily skews towards children based on the rounds I’ve played.
Interestingly, even though it is obvious that the spirit of the game is to draw out the phrases rather than just write it out, the rules don’t explicitly disallow it and there are no mechanics that enforce it.
Players: Each lobby consists of 8 players engaging in multilateral competition
Objective: Have the most points in your lobby at the end of 3 rounds.
Procedure: The player simply picks an avatar and a nickname, and is able to join a random lobby immediately or start a private lobby. The drawer chooses one out of three word/phrases, and has ~80 seconds to draw it out while everyone else has to guess what the phrase is.
Rules: The guessers get points based on how fast they guess the phrase, and the drawer gets points based on how many players successfully guess the phrase and the amount of time left when the last person guesses. Interestingly, even though it is obvious that the spirit of the game is to draw out the phrases rather than just write it out, the rules don’t explicitly disallow it and there are no mechanics that enforce it. The only way to kick a player is by initiating a vote while they are drawing and getting majority vote.
I had to be creative in coming up with the fastest way to draw the words.
Kinds of fun
Some might disagree, but I think the primary kind of fun offered by Skribbl.io is the fun of expression that comes from drawing with its simple yet effective drawing system. Since players are limited to just a colored brush, I had to be creative in coming up with the fastest way to draw the words. It was thrilling when I succeeded and the bells kept ringing as players quickly guessed my word.
Of course, being a competitive guessing/judging game, the fun of challenge is involved as everyone tries to be the best drawer/guesser. However, I’d argue that Skribbl.io does not place an emphasis on the fun of challenge, as there is no permanent stat tracking and there are no leaderboards.
The fun of fellowship in Skribbl.io is heavily dependent on whether you are playing with friends or strangers. When I played the game with friends previously, there was a great sense of fellowship as we drew inside jokes and laughed with each other on Discord. This time, playing with strangers, I hardly felt any fellowship at all as people were joining and leaving frequently and no one talked outside the game.
Finally, I’d argue that Skribbl.io, being very low stakes, accessible, and easy to drop in to for a few quick rounds, is a good of example of a game that offers the fun of submission.
The judging portion is implicit rather than explicit like most judging games.
Comparison to other games in the same genre
Skribbl.io, despite having a simple premise, is quite different from other judging games like Cards Against Humanity.
First, the judging portion is implicit rather than explicit like most judging games. There is no procedure in the game that says “now judge this drawing” – instead judging happens implicitly and automatically based on how many players were able to guess the phrase you were trying to draw.
Second, I’m just guessing here, but I’d wager that Skribble.io was built with online-play with strangers in mind, while other games like Apples to Apples were built for in-person-play with family or friends. I think the design decisions to not have permanent accounts, the ability to quickly drop-in or leave a lobby at anytime, the implicit and automatic judging process, and the fact that no part of the game is based on verbal communication, all lead to Skribl.io being fun to play online with stranger. While there is nothing stopping Apples to Apples from doing the same, it’s clear it was built as a board game.
First, you have to feel comfortable enough with drawing for random strangers. Second, there is no option to turn off chat and no chat filter, so there’s chance to be verbally assaulted. At the same time, this is an online only game where you can leave and join a new lobby at any time, and you are completely anonymous.
What works and what doesn’t
Overall, Skribbl.io absolutely accomplishes its goal of being a fun little drawing/judging game that is super accessible. If I were to offer some improvements, I’d first add an option to turn off chat and a separate option to disable a profanity filter that should be disabled by default. add some more basic functionalities to the drawing tools. A simple feature like fill would go a long way. Also, I think the drawer should be scored based on how fast everyone guesses the word, not just the completion rate and the time of the slowest person.