Deciding the house rules has always been part of Pictionary, and you still need to determine for yourself whether a guess of "Santa cap" counts for "Santa hat." The tablet drawing tools present a new wrinkle that is also something you should agree on at the outset. You can choose from a pencil, crayon, or spray-paint tool, among others, and adjust the tip size for broader or finer strokes. You can erase, fill, undo, redo, clean the slate, and choose from 47 colors. These tools are all fairly straightforward, though it's unlikely you'll use them all in the short window of time you have. The shape tool is where things can get tricky. This tool allows you to make squares, circles, lines, and other shapes. When you put the stylus to the tablet, one point of the shape is created. You then grow, shrink, and maneuver the shape to your liking and release it to set it on the page. It is possible to use this motion effect as a rudimentary animation, as seen in the embedded gameplay video above. Whether you think this is foul trickery or clever ingenuity is up to you and your fellow players to decide.
No amount of clever color usage is going to keep your movie buff friend from guessing 'baby fish mouth'.
The opportunities for similar novelty are better (and less contentiously) explored in the other main game mode, Pictionary Mania. The basic structure of the game remains the same, but the clue types always involve some sort of challenge for the sketcher. Some are as basic as drawing with your eyes closed or using your nondominant hand to sketch. Others take advantage of the digital medium by only allowing you to draw straight lines or shapes, steadily rotating the drawing area, or limiting the amount of ink at your disposal. None of these conditions is prohibitively difficult, and they are in keeping with the lighthearted nature of Pictionary. Whether impressive, disastrous, or somewhere in between, the range of drawing and guessing skills on display is sure to entertain, and adding goofy conditions into the mix only adds to the fun.
This video game version of Pictionary is not just a faithful translation of the original, but it also throws in some enjoyable new elements that encourage players not to take the game too seriously. The audiovisual presentation is nothing to write home about, but it's cheerful and innocuous enough to allow you to focus on the real visual treat: your own drawings. This is a fun way to play Pictionary, but it does cost a lot more than the board game. To play, you need to buy the uDraw GameTablet with uDraw Studio ($69.99) and then a copy of the game itself ($29.99). This may prove too high a price barrier for many, and though the initial learning hump isn't large, it presents more of an obstacle to enjoyment than simply drawing with a pen and paper. Still, there's a lot to like here, and if you're looking for a social way to enjoy your tablet peripheral, Pictionary is no-brainer.