Critical Play: Competitive Analysis


The game Never Have I Ever is a classic conversational game in which players start by putting up 10 fingers then go around in a circle taking turns to say things that they have never done before in the form “never have I ever ____” (e.g. “never have I ever broken a bone”). All the players who have done that thing before have to put a finger down, and if no one in the group has done it before, the person who said it puts a finger down. The last one to put all their fingers down is the winner of the game (or loser depending on how you view it)!


The theme of the game is similar to the truth part of Truth or Dare in that it encourages friendship, openness, and bonding as players have to admit to facts about themselves that other players may not have known before. These admissions usually lead to players sharing funny stories about what they admitted to, creating a space for people to get to know each other on a deeper level.

Because the game encourages these themes, the target audience in my opinion is a group of friends/acquaintances who are comfortable with each other but want an avenue to form even deeper connections with one another.


The most interesting mechanic of this game is that players ask truth questions to the other players in the format of saying things they themselves haven’t done before. Since there is a unilateral competition element (the person asking the question vs. everyone else) and multilateral competition element (everyone playing to win for themselves) to this game, this mechanic encourages the dynamic of players being creative in their prompts and discourages them from targeting specific players, contrary to similar games in this genre (e.g. Truth or Dare, We’re Not Really Strangers). Also, since multiple people can “answer” someone’s question at once, it usually leads to multiple people sharing different stories about the same type of incident, which creates a unique kind of fun. These dynamics make the game fun in a fellowship and discovery type of way, as learning more about one another in surprising ways helps create deeper bonds.


This game is pretty susceptible to abuse as it’s up to the players themselves to handle abuse. Since the players facilitate the game, if some players clearly don’t feel comfortable with the direction of the game, someone must speak up about it or the game will end up creating awkward relationships between people. It’s possible though to mitigate abuse against yourself by lying and not putting fingers down when you don’t feel comfortable sharing something. This might become a problem though if someone in the game knows you’ve lied and calls you out on it.

What I Would Change

While the game is fun at first, it can get boring after a few rounds because prompts start becoming similar and people take longer to think of questions. To help the problem of people taking a long time to think of questions, I think it could be helpful to have a stack of prompts that players can draw from if they can’t think of one within a minute. This would also help diversify the kinds of questions that are asked throughout the game.

A modification of this game that I think could be fun is incorporating the idea from the first round of We’re Not Really Strangers and having players say a prompt that they may or may not have done before, then having the other players guess whether they have or haven’t done it. This would also help minimize abuse since you would only be able to prompt and talk about your own experiences.

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