Critical Play: Bluffing, Judging and Getting Vulnerable…

Psych! Outwit your friends

Warner Bros: IOS and Android Game

Psych is definitely under the category of a “Getting to know you game”. The target audience of this game is anyone older than a preteen. This game has very simple game mechanics, but I feel like the true getting to know you aspect of it would not be appreciated by an extremely young group of players. The most popular game mode of Psych, “So the truth comes out” can be played by a minimum of 3 players and a maximum of 20. A round of play consists of two things: writing a response to the prompt, and voting for the best response after all responses have been submitted. Players do not know who submitted which responses until after the voting process. At the end of a preselected number of rounds, the player with the highest number of cumulative votes wins. 

Prompts always include a player’s name in them. Sometimes, multiple players can be put into an auto generated prompt. For example, a prompt could be “If Sam were to star in a movie, what would that movie’s name be?” or “What is one thing Jenny cannot live without?”. These personalized prompts encourage custom and thoughtful responses. Players then write the most accurate or funny personalized responses about that person in order to try and gather the most votes. Once all responses are submitted, all players can read them without knowing who wrote them. Oftentimes, the prompt provokes revealing responses which are both fun to read and create. Since the game revolves around voting, unique responses such as funny memories or really characteristic answers are typically voted on the most. Therefore, the game encourages responses to be memorable and appeal to many players in the game. This makes voting fun, because reading the responses can provoke fun flashbacks or memories for the group. Responses can also create social tension which is fun for some people. 


This is an example of a personalized prompt. Players can write short answers to this or get really creative with their responses. 

This game works because everyone is always involved in each round. The player who the prompt is about is the most involved and interested. Regardless of the player in the prompt, all players have to think of witty responses in order to get votes and win the game. The pseudo-anonymity of voting also creates a fun social dynamic since players do not know whose answer they are voting for. However, sometimes the game turns into a competition of who can craft the most funny/unrelated comment regardless of the prompt. Funny comments tend to get votes more than true or personalized responses which can detract from the point of the game. I think the game would be improved if the focus of the responses was clarified before playing the game. Players can vote on whether they want to allow other players to write any response or focus their responses on being truthful. 

This game is most similar to Apples to Apples. However, because the game is digital, responses and prompts can be more personalized. I think this adds to the vulnerability aspect of the game. Apples to apples is great because the responses can be random and players don’t have to worry about being too funny or accurate since they only have 5 cards to select from. In Psych, players can create as short of a response as they wish or as long of a response as they want(up to 300 characters I think). This allows for more personable responses in the game and can lead to more interesting social dynamics. Because of these personalized responses and prompts, players can get as vulnerable as they desire when writing their prompts. 

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