Draw Something, My Friend

Have been getting surprisingly into Draw Something for the iPad of late. In fact, both Rilla and I are pretty addicted to the delights of asynchronously playing with a couple of friends of ours in Denmark. The nature of the game is pretty much Pictionary-over-a-distance. One person is assigned a secret word and they draw it on their iPad screen. It gets sent to the other person who then sees a play-back of the drawing and guesses the word (from a restricted set of letters, to make it easier). Then they get to do a drawing, and so on.

The game is really interesting for all kinds of reasons. There’s an implicit negotiation, for example, of what should be thought of as “fair” in terms of the use of symbols, say, or arrows. But obviously it’s the human relationship as communicated through drawings that’s the best and most intriguing bit. The twin experiences of watching the other person’s drawing unfold as you try to guess it, and of watching a replay of them watching your drawing unfold (so meta!), both are very human. In both cases, you find yourself very strongly interpreting ever little bit of agency the game provides (the movement of the pen, selection of colours, punching in of letters) as being hugely indicative of the person on the other side. There’s personality in there, much more than I’d have anticipated, and there’s far more personality in the drawing process than there is in the final drawing.

As such, you end up with this very odd lens on a friendship. The friend who always draws incredibly primitivist figures with a very fat line. The friend who kind semi-cheats and thus draws you into your own semi-cheating as the rules between you are negotiated over rounds of drawings. The friend who is not the friend because it’s actually, quite clearly, their kid playing the game instead of them, a bizarre wash of blue and awkward black shapes apparently depicting “well”, a lack of spelling ability leading to rapid fire nonsense guesses followed by a “pass”.

I wouldn’t have picked Draw Something as being so relationship oriented, but it really is. I don’t think I’ve felt more of a connection through a game situation before.

19 April 2012
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