Critical Play

Name of game, creator, platform.

  • The name of the game is called What’s in the Box. I don’t think there is a single creator of the game, this fun game has always existed throughout history and I think there are different iterations of them. It is a physical game, and the platform that we need is a box and a series of items.


  • The theme of the game is suspense and playfulness. So basically my roommate and I each picked 5 weird items for each other to guess. The item is hidden in a box and is meant for being ambiguous. This is especially close to our theme of the party game which is people guessing each others’ cocktails. They have to try the cocktail to be able to tell what’s in it. The cocktail could be really good tasting and it could also taste really bad. So the idea between the two games is really similar. To be able to win the game, the player has to sacrifice something.

Important Formal Elements of the Game

  • Players
    • There could be multiple players(3-5) playing this game. In this case, it was my roommate and me. So I think this game is pretty flexible.
  • Objective
    • To win the game, the player has to touch and feel the item that is in the box. If they are able to tell what the item is in the box first and accurately, they win.
  • Procedures
    • My roommate and I each picked 3 items for each other to guess for a round. The goal of picking the items is to make them as ambiguous as possible so that the other person can’t guess them. This is really similar to what we have in the “guess the Cocktail” game that we designed. Then we rotate and feel the items to see which side wins.
  • Rules
    • Firstly, my roommate and I each pick 3 items(small enough to fit in a box). Then The other side puts the three items in a box that the other person can’t see. Then each side gets 3 mins to touch and feel the objects. After three minutes, they say what the objects are. One item guessed right is one point. Then we rotate and do the same thing. In the end, we see who has more points.
  • Resources
    • All we need for this game is a laundry basket with a top. 6 different items. A timer.
  • Conflict
    • I think the conflict in this game is that because the players can’t see what is in the box, they could be “pranked” by the other side. For example, they could put peanut butter and trick other people think it’s mud. I think this closely reflects the game that my group is designing which is guessing what ingredients are in the cocktails. One team could totally prank the other team by putting a lot of spicy sauce in their drink and just not giving the other side a good time.
  • Boundaries
    • The boundaries that we have is that the items can’t be too personal(ie, underwear). The player can’t see what is in the box.
  • Outcome
    • It depends on the number of players. But the person who is able to guess more accurately wins the game.

Type of fun game intended

  • I think this game gives sensation fun the most. As mentioned above, a fun factor of the game is that the item in the box could be a wide range of items. So the player has to use their sensation and imagination to picture what the item could be. A big part of the fun also comes from the notion that people can put something really spicy in the box. So I think that type of excitement is the core element that drives the game. This is really similar to the type of fun in the game that we are designing as well which is the player does not know what the other person put in the drink.

Graphic Design Decisions

  • To be honest this game does not have a graphic design interface. So I can’t say much. But I think one thing that people could add to make it better is through adding a scorecard system. So if this game is played through multiple rounds, the winner of each round could receive a point in the form of a card

Comparison to other games in its genre

  • Some other games in the genre include other party games like guessing the ingredient in the potluck. But I think this is more for a family-friendly context. As we can see this type of guessing game can have different degrees of fun, which are pure dinner party trivia, a spicy, prank-driven competition, or even a romantic game that is suitable for couples. I think the positioning of the game really well so that as many people can play it as possible without losing the “fun” factor of it.

Handling of abuse

  • One potential abuse in this game is that the player could put something really out of line in the box. For example, something that is not respectful to the other player or something that is way too personal. This is a problem that could exist in our game as well – what if the team chooses to put half a bottle of the spicy sauce in the drink just so that they can prank the other team? At what point does the pranking factor lose its fun? But if there are too many rules on this the game might not feel light-weight and fun to play anymore.

Things you would change to make the game better

  • To make this specific game better: 1) include more people in the game. 3-4 people would be a good number to play this game because then they can all feel one item so there is less bias in the process. 2) include more boxes and the same item for fairness. If we have only one box, the players have to feel it in turn and the first play could have more time to think about their decisions than the last player(another way to solve this is to ask the player to write down the item on a piece of paper and submit it right after the session 3) Have a theme so that the range of the item could be narrowed down so that it would be easier to guess

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