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How to Play Pictionary: An Illustrated Guide

The quarantine has left us all in need of entertainment. It’s no wonder, then, that people have taken to appropriating the age-old game of Pictionary to Zoom’s environment. If you’re one of the people that wonder how to play Pictionary, then you’re in luck, as we’ve outlined an easy-to-follow guide that will bring you up to speed in no time.

Playing Pictionary on Zoom is not as complicated as some might think. You can traditionally play Pictionary with a pen and some paper. Zoom’s Whiteboard feature, however, offers an amazing alternative. Spicing up a board meeting before delving into what’s serious has never been this easy!

What is Pictionary on Zoom?

Pictionary is a word-guessing game created by Robert Angel in 1985. The game is generally played in two teams and has the end goal of identifying a larger array of words than your competitors. The team that scores the largest number of words is declared the winner.

Zoom is a particularly awesome platform to play Pictionary on due to its popularity and ease of use. The onset of the pandemic has left many people migrating their daily business to Zoom, greatly inflating its user base. Fans of Pictionary know this only means more people to play with.

Zoom’s Whiteboard feature makes playing Pictionary a breeze, although playing online means that you’ll have to use a random word generator as well for a complete experience.

Want something different or is Pictionary not what you’re looking for? We’ve put together a large list of games for you to peruse and enjoy, so take your pick!

vector concept of children playing pictionary

Getting Started with Pictionary

Learning how to play Pictionary is easy, although mastering it requires more than just a couple of ad-hoc games. First thing you should take care of is to relax. While Pictionary is highly competitive in nature, there’s no reason for you to get too involved. Some joke that it’s the type of game that destroys friendships. We’re glad to let you know that’s anything but true.

Ready? Great! In order to play, you’ll need to gather the following materials:

  • A Zoom account.
  • (Optional) Pen and paper.
  • A random word generator.
  • A timer.

We’ll be assuming that you’re going to be using Zoom’s Whiteboard feature instead of the traditional pen and paper approach. This removes the need to keep track of word categories on account of the generator.

Setting Up Your Teams

While you can learn how to play Pictionary on Zoom with more than just two teams, the general rule of thumb is that it’s far easier to understand and enjoy the game when there’s fewer teams to worry about.

If you have a large table and are not sure if you can accommodate everyone, then just split it in two and assign more players to a team than otherwise instead of adding more, as that tends to bog it down with additional paperwork.

The situation in which there are only three remaining players can also crop up, in which case it’s recommended you designate one of them as the dedicated sketcher.

Establishing House Rules

Pictionary has a set of rules that must be followed in order to keep up with the spirit of the game. There are also many who have chosen to modify them to their liking. There’s a varied amount of house rules available that you can enforce before starting play, so it’s wise to discuss them with your group for the perfect experience.

The word “basketball” is a classic example to consider when trying to determine house rules. What do you do if a player guesses “basketball hoop,” instead? The consensus among veteran Pictionary players is that the answer goes as long as the key word has been identified.

In traditional Pictionary you determine the starting player by rolling a six-sided die. This doesn’t quite apply to Zoom Pictionary. You can choose the starting player in a myriad of ways, such as going in the order of the webcam layout. Or alphabetically. Or by age, to give only a few examples!

people socializing via video conference

How to Play Pictionary on Zoom

So you’ve learned what it takes to play Pictionary and now you’re eager to get started. First, you must split the players into teams. Then you should get ready to apply your artistic skills before the timer runs out.

The first player has to start the 60 second timer and generate a random word. They will then have to appropriate it onto Zoom’s Whiteboard through drawing.

Let’s assume they generate the word “dog.” This means that the first player will have to illustrate a dog onto the Whiteboard. Then the other player has to guess it correctly before the timer runs out.

There’s always going to be someone who is going to try and declare the word before the first few lines have been laid out, which is great, as it’s all in the spirit of the game.

The host of the game or the player assembly will have to determine a success threshold for winning the game. Traditional Pictionary is played on a game board and has a slightly different scoring system than what Zoom allows. It’s important to establish the winning number of successes before starting play.

The team that first reaches this threshold is the winner, chalking up a success for each word guessed off the Whiteboard.

If you’re part of the winning team, then congratulations! You’ve gotten the hang of Pictionary, and will no doubt have a slew of future successes when playing against less experienced players.

If you’re part of the losing team, then congratulations as well! Pictionary is a game and should be taken thusly. Losing just means you have room for improvement, and there’s no better time to apply your recently learned talents than in future games.

Other Zoom Games Worth Trying

Zoom isn’t just good for playing Pictionary. There are many other games you could engage in, all of which are perfect for a video conference environment. Here’s a small list of suggestions that will leave you enthusiastic at the prospect of discovering a whole world of traditional gaming done virtually.

Twenty Questions

Need to test the amount of general knowledge you’ve acquired over the course of your lifetime? There’s few better ways to impress your peers with just how many things you know than by challenging them to a game of twenty questions.

Truth or Dare

See how brave your friends and family are by challenging them to a game of truth or dare. This staple childhood game can be played on Zoom with no effort whatsoever and is simple enough to thrive in situations in which time is of the essence.

Hangman

What a classic! Students have been playing Hangman since time immemorial, and the game is still very popular among certain groups. Zoom’s Whiteboard feature makes it easy for you and your group to play this awesome word puzzle game. Train not only your mind, but your ability to develop long-lasting friendships!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you play Pictionary without teams?

Yes! While Pictionary is a team game at its heart, Hasbro has also put forward rules for players who would like to eschew the idea of teamwork. All in good fun, of course. If this is what you’re into, then we have some great suggestions for you.

You can play Pictionary in three players by splitting up the table in two teams and choosing the third player as the designated artist of the game. Drawing for the rest of the game isn’t all that fun, however.

The artist is also going to score a point whenever they draw well enough that one of the other players has guessed a keyword. This way you can reward both normal players and the artist.

One simple way to play Pictionary without teams is to rotate the role of designated artist after every guessed word. This can be done in any manner, whether from left to right or by the flip of a coin.

If the artist has a higher score than the other players, then he can no longer be an artist, and is only relegated to guessing.

You can also establish a set number of successes that will win the game instead of deciding freeform. Our suggestion would be to go for 9, which makes for a quick, stress-free game.

Is Pictionary a good game for children?

There’s few games, in fact, that are better suited to a developing child than Pictionary. Learning to identify words and concepts through a visual medium can help develop a child’s cognitive and perceptive skills to great effect.

Pictionary might sound a bit too difficult for certain children, although if you patiently take the time to explain how the game is played, then it only becomes a matter of practice.

Exposing a loved one to a traditional game like Pictionary is a great choice for parents who want to take an active hand in their development.

Can you play Pictionary in class?

Using Pictionary as a learning tool is a very wise move for teachers from all over the world. It’s easy to make class fun when you’re playing a game! If you’re looking for a more personal, laid-back approach to teaching your students words, then Pictionary is exactly what you need.

The convenience of having a blackboard or a whiteboard available solidifies Pictionary as being the end-all classroom game. It is a great introduction to a particularly intense lesson, as it can help students unwind and relax before getting to work.

Are there other ways of playing Pictionary?

You can play Pictionary in a wide variety of ways. The most common way of playing an alternate version of Hasbro’s timeless classic is Reverse Pictionary, which is particularly good when in a classroom environment on account of its unique nature.

Let’s assume your table has been split in two. A designated guesser has to be chosen by each team, who will have the sole privilege of attempting to identify key words. The guesser will have to be positioned with their back to the drawing board.

The game host must write down a word on the drawing board. The two teams will then have to draw it onto any canvas which will then be presented to the designated guessers. Their role, of course, is to identify the key words.

This is a fun way of putting a fresh coat of paint on Pictionary and will no doubt greatly improve its replayability value. Playing Reverse Pictionary on Zoom can be tricky, although that obstacle can easily be circumvented with a bit of creativity.

The Bottom Line

Pictionary is a spectacular game for all ages. Zoom’s Whiteboard feature has made it easy to get together for a bit of rest and relaxation. This opens up a large host of gaming possibilities. Although it might be a different scenery in comparison to the classic way of doing things, giving such an activity a chance can actually generate some very interesting benefits:

  • For one, children get the chance to make use of technology in a fun, constructive way. Pictionary on Zoom is a wonderful way of learning how tech can facilitate our daily lives.
  • It brings people closer together. Having relatives in other corners of the World isn’t breaking news. Pictionary on Zoom can easily bring people together, no matter where they are.
  • It beats watching TV. We all know how quickly one can get caught in the immense world of television. Although it may bring a lot of educative value to one’s common knowledge, most of the time you cannot really interact with what is going on. With Pictionary, players are directly involved in the activity, despite having a screen as their main point of contact.

Understanding the rules of the game can be difficult at first, especially when adapting Pictionary to an online video conference. You’re bound to have loads of fun as long as you follow the instructions.

Want to do us a favor? Then enjoy yourself and create some memorable experiences with your friends and acquaintances. Pictionary is the sort of game over which you can easily bond, so forget about your worries! Don’t be afraid to dive right in. You’ll be better at it and you will be left with a wonderful memory.

You’ve learned how to play Pictionary. Now it’s all up to you!

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