Critical Play: Bluffing, Judging and Getting Vulnerable is an online multiplayer drawing game made by ticedev that can be played on any browser. The premise: players take turns to choose one of three prompt words, and make a drawing to get other players to guess the word in a given time limit.

Target Audience

With a simple premise and easy-to-grasp mechanics, the game seems suited for a large audience group because of the sheer variety of dynamics it can create. The only requirement is an understanding of the words, and the ability to draw. Note that the first requirement can be loosened further because players can customize the lists of words used. The game can be played with groups of friends, who can leverage the custom vocabulary feature to personalize their playing experience, as well as with strangers in online lobbies.

Notable Elements of the Game can be played with 2 through 12 players in a lobby. Games are split into any of 2 through 10 rounds, where each round has as many turns as players. Each turn sees a player choose one of three words and draw on a canvas until all other players correctly guess the word, or the draw time runs out. Lobbies can define the draw time to be anywhere between 30 and 180 seconds (with 10-second intervals). All players are assigned scores at the end of each turn: the scores of the guessing players are determined by the speed with which they guess the word; and the score of the drawing player is based on the number of players who guess the word, and the speed with which they do so. Players are shown the number of letter in the prompt word as blank dashes above the canvas. As the timer runs out, the game may uncover a couple of letters of the word to help the players who weren’t able to guess the word before. Players have an unlimited number of guesses, and can see other players’ incorrect guesses.

The game works because of its immense simplicity. Having a blank canvas to draw on with friends, with next to no rules, means that players can practice unfettered creativity. Since the game is a time trial which rewards speed, it creates a challenge that players enjoy. For easy words, it may boil down to faster typing speed, and typos that give away the word to other guessers can add humour and improve how the game delivers sense pleasure.

Free-form drawing leads to some very interesting games. While most people will play by the rules and draw an image to get others to guess the word, others employ some strategies which, while allowed by the mechanics, seem a bit iffy. For instance, people may use the canvas to spell out textual hints, such as describing the word, or giving anagrams. In online stranger lobbies, this seems to be a common strategy, while friends often play with “house rules” that may disallow writing anything substantive.

A big concern for such a game would be incentivizing drawers to create a good drawing that helps others guess the word; an incentive for the contrary would mean that a strategy where the drawer leaves the canvas blank could be numerically optimal, which would make the game uninteresting. The current point system is skewed in the other direction, since drawers get points when others players correctly guess their word quickly, and no points if nobody guesses the word.

Players can use extensions to gain advantages in the game. [Source]
And of course, there are hacks! Browser extensions allow drawers to create drawings automatically based on the prompt, or upload images that are drawn on the canvas. Other extensions help guessers by generating a guess based on the drawing and letter blanks. Since these are more scripts than hacks, the developers aren’t able to prevent players from using them.

One issue with the game is the lack of any kind of oversight, which can be important in public lobbies to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. Drawings can be graphic or NSFW, and there is no moderation in the chat. Additionally, drawers can write the prompt word on the canvas to gain points, which defeats the purpose of the game. Some kind of text detection compared against the prompt for similarity could help prevent players from gaming the system so obviously.

Overall, is a fun game to play with friends, that delivers well on sense pleasure and fellowship.

Comparison is similar to Pictionary in that players attempt to guess a phrase from a word. The difference is that takes care of the turns and scoring automatically, mechanics that need to be managed manually in Pictionary; on the other hand, Pictionary is a team game, while is an individual game. Other Pictionary mods include Jackbox’s Drawful, where players draw on prompts that are abstract and humorous; other players then create labels for drawings; finally, the labels are collated and players vote for the one they think was the original prompt that the drawer drew based on. I think Drawful is more fun since the creativity doesn’t just arise from the drawer: the guessers also play a huge role by coming up with labels. Another game similar to Drawful is Gartic Phone, which does away with the scoring system, and instead creates a chain: one player draws an image, another labels it, a third player draws based on the new label, and so on. At the end, the game produces an “episode” as a gif, where the evolution of images and prompts can be seen. Games like Drawful and Gartic Phone deliver more heavily on the fellowship aspect than does, and rely more on cooperative creativity between all players to create fun, than individuals excelling at guessing words, which delivers more on the challenge aesthetic.


This games does not invite, nor need, vulnerability to function and be fun. But when playing with friends, players can be as vulnerable as they want to, and express themselves freely through the canvas. Especially in games that use custom words, players can create a bubble with their friends where they feel comfortable being vulnerable, and sharing inside jokes and shared experiences to add fun and humour to the game.

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