Skribbl.io, created by ticedev, is essentially an online version of Pictionary where players get a prompt word and draw a representation of it such that the other players can guess it within the time limit.
Skribbl.io is suited for all types of players since it is quite simple and straightforward. Each turn, players get to choose a word prompt from three options, which makes it accessible since sometimes players will not know the meaning of a certain word. Thus, different age groups can play the game, as long as they have the motor skills to draw with a mouse on the computer. Another variation is that players can add their own word banks, customizing the experience. I think this game is often played among groups of people who know each other (friends, co-workers), but it is also possible and very common to play with strangers.
Formal Elements of the Game
Skribbl.io has capacity or 12 players per private room, and you can set the rounds to be a maximum of 10 per game. Each round, every player gets one turn to draw, and the rest of the turns they try to guess the word and get points. For each guess, players must type it into a shared chat box. If the guess is correct, it will not show up in the box so other people can keep guessing. If the guess is not correct, then the incorrect word will appear in the box. This allows players to get hints from other players’ failed attempts. The number of points a player gets is dependent on 1) whether they solved the word, and 2) how fast they figured it out. The number of points the player drawing gets is based on how many players were able to correctly guess the word. This way, both sides get points if the other is successful so there is no sabotage and the game stays interesting because every player is engaged and trying.
Each round, one player draws based on a word prompt (which they choose out of three options). The other players have a limited amount of time to guess the word based on the picture. One hint that players have is the number of letters the word has, shown at the top of the screen. As time passes, one letter from the word is revealed at a time. This ensures that the, even if the drawing is hard to understand, players still have a good chance of guessing the word. Thus the game will never get dull because it’s too difficult, and it will always keep moving because of the timer and the hints.
What Kind of Fun?
Because speed is an element in the game (+ there is limited time to guess), each player at every point in the game is actively engaged and involved in the progression of the game. Since this determines points, it also sets some healthy competition among players. As mentioned, the slow reveal of the letters of the word prevent stagnation even if a word is hard and people are having trouble guessing from the drawing. The game is constantly moving. Every player has a turn being the drawer which also makes things fun.
Mechanics and Improvements
This game works because it is so simple and straightforward. It uses basic skills that people already have (knowledge of words, drawing). It is very easy to get the game started up and explain the rules. The online aspect of it also means that rounds go fast and players do not need to worry about organizing or facilitating anything. The timer is set automatically, words are generated automatically, and it is easy to figure out who guessed the word first since it’s on the computer. I can imagine that an in-person version of Skribbl.io would be very chaotic and the downtime in-between turns and rounds could lead to some disengagement.
This game could be improved with some more moderation and customization. Although the default word banks would not be vulgar, there is no limit on the types of drawings or guesses people can make. Depending on the level of closeness among players, this may make players uncomfortable if they are playing with strangers.
Furthermore, I think so far for game themes you only have the default characters you are allowed to play. It would be fun if Skribbl.io had different types of themes so players could customize their characters.
Skribbl.io is very similar to Pictionary since players must draw and guess words, except that it is online so the game mechanics are all taken care of automatically, like scoring, timing, generating words, etc. Pictionary is also team-based whereas Skribbl.io is individual-based. Maybe another improvement/addition to Skribbl.io would be the ability for team dueling.
I don’t think this game requires players to be vulnerable, since players have creative freedom to draw what they want based on the word. Players also have three word options to choose each time, so if one word is hard for them to draw, they can make another one. Because of this, Skribbl.io is a good game to play for all types of groups.