Rachel Naidich Critical Play: Bluffing, Judging and Getting Vulnerable…

Name of game: skribbl.io

Creator: @ticedev on Twitter

Platform: web

Target audience: A group of people looking to play something social online without having to physically be in the same space

Formal elements of the game: The game can be played with 3-12 players. Each round, one player is selected to be the drawer. The drawer will choose a word and draw it within 80 seconds. The other players can type in words to try to guess what the drawer is drawing. If a player guess the word correctly, they earn points and the drawer earns points as well. The point scoring is interesting because the faster players are able to guess what the word is, the more points they get. The player relationships are also interesting because everyone is competing against each other, but drawing well benefits both the drawer and the other players.

Kind of fun: I think the main type of fun in this game is expression. The game allows people to express themselves by drawing their unique interpretation of the word they selected. It can be humorous to see some people’s drawings because they can be interesting or really bad. There is also an element of fellowship because to some extent, the drawer and the other players need to work together to earn points. The drawer needs to communicate well through drawing, and the other players need to have good guessing skills.

Why this game works/How it could be improved: This game works because it is simple to play and allows people to be creative with their friends. However, it is also very difficult to draw with a mouse, and most people do not have drawing tablets that they could use instead. I think that this game would potentially work better on a mobile device because it would be more intuitive to draw on a screen with your finger.

Comparison to other games: This game is similar to Pictionary. The main differences are that skribbl.io is an online game rather than an in-person game, it does not involve a game board, and players do not have teammates.  In skribbl.io, players are instead all competing against one another to get the most number of points. I think that in skribbl.io, you lose aspects of fellowship that exists in Pictionary because you don’t have teammates that you’re working with. In Pictionary, there is clear motivation to draw well as the drawer because it can only help you and your teammates. On the other hand, there is still motivation in skribbl.io to draw well because you earn more points if more players guess correctly, but there is an interesting mechanic where drawing well helps both you and your competitors. I don’t think that either game is necessary better or worse than others. I think that during COVID, skribbl.io was definitely the better game because it allowed people to play together no matter where they are. In person, Pictionary is better because it forges stronger bonds between players.

How vulnerable you need to get: I don’t think that skribbl.io requires players to be that vulnerable. You don’t reveal any personal information about yourself or embarass yourself very much. The only potentially embarassing aspect of the game is drawing poorly, but it is kind of expected that everyone’s drawings will be terrible because people are drawing with mouse.

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