Pictionary Air

Publisher: Mattel
Players: 3-12
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 15-60 minutes
Times Played: 5 with a review copy

Sometimes the title for a game and the picture on the box allow the rules for a game to explain themselves. 

So, Pictionary, but I’m drawing in the air with an electronic pen, and my teammates are watching through some sort of augmented reality app that tracks what I’m drawing?  Yes.

You know how to play this game:  Split into teams. Choose one person from a team to draw first.  They choose a card, and a clue on that card, and try to draw it without using letters or numbers and their teammates try to guess what they’re drawing.  Here, you can keep drawing until the timer is up, working through the clues on your card. Once the timer is up, the other team goes.

But rather than drawing on paper, you’re drawing in the air with some sort of magic electronic pen.

What I had not anticipated from the box and the name was that you’d get to interact with your drawings.  Of course, the draw-er cannot see what they’ve drawn, so hopefully you can place your body in the right position to convey your clue!  Need to draw a ladder? You can sketch a quick ladder and then mime climbing up.

The clues might be inconsistent: some will be harder for certain drawers and some will be harder for certain guessers.  Others will seem impossible in any scenario. At some point, it comes with the territory of games that involve a deck of cards with things to be guesses.  If they were all easy, you wouldn’t have the joy of those eureka moments where someone gets it.

The app for the game is outstanding and has all of the features I would “need to have”, the features I would “like to have”, and a few that I’m not sure what to do with yet.  You can customize the teams’ colors (which will also match the color of light they draw with). The length of a turn. The number of rounds. You can erase. When a team guesses a clue and the person holding the device gives a point, it automatically erases the drawing.  If you mis-assigned points, at the end of a turn you can manually adjust.

Yes, the exposure typically seems too dark, but I imagine that helps the lines stand out, and if you aren’t careful, some light sources in the room may inadvertently cause some artifacts in your drawing, such as in this video:

The export function for video is simple and intuitive, allowing you to trim videos to export just the pieces you want.  It also includes options for overlaying stickers and text. It also has this mode where you can draw with the pen in selfie mode, but I’m not quite sure what it’s for.

The pen has worked flawlessly so far, though sometimes you need to be creative with how you hold it.  You still need to operate in a 2D world (in a sense), though your intuition may be to operate in 3D: make sure the pen is facing the app!  It hasn’t been uncommon during someone’s first drawing for them to turn their body and the pen and draw in the dark. 

I’m a sucker for Pictionary variants, as I enjoy drawing games, and especially those without too many extra levels of rules and strategy layered on top. Practically, I’m much more likely to play them with family and other folks that don’t want that.  I’ve very much enjoyed the Card Game variant from several years ago, and always wanted to try the one where you draw on the 3D human figure. 

This one shines in another way in those more party-ish settings too: you don’t need to sit around a table.  I mean, this is the box I carry it around in:

It’s just the pen and the box of cards. Somebody has their phone on them, right?  Folks can sit back and relax in their chairs, flow in and out of playing, and it supports large numbers.  (The app is also set up to cast to a TV, though I haven’t had much of a chance to try that option.) You could play outside.  Camping. On a train. Anywhere.

For family birthday gatherings, reunions, and larger friend gatherings, this fits a hole that I have right now for casual don’t-sit-around-a-table games.  It should see a lot of play as we head towards the end of year holidays.

James Nathan

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

I love it! James Nathan
I like it. 
Not for me…

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2 Responses to Pictionary Air

  1. Pingback: Pictionary Air – Herman Watts

  2. George Lee says:

    Regarding the dark exposure, I tried using the Samsung Tab S tablet but it’s unusable due to the dark image. There is no way that I can see to make adjustments for the exposure level..

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