I often find that the awesomeness of a game scales directly with the difficulty I have pulling myself away from it to write the review. Using this criteria, Broken Picture Telephone, by Alishah Novin stands alone in its level of awesome. On a scale of 1 to ninja-pirate-zombie-robot, it's cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped bacon in a Monty Python reduction. In fact, I think I'll just skip the rest of this thing and
What!? You want to know what it's about? Sheesh. All right: remember Telephone, the kids' game where you whisper a message to someone, and they whisper it to the next person, and so on, until it reaches the end of the line and sounds have-some-fruitly nothing like the message you started with? This is pretty much that. With pictures.
Now you want to know how to play? Come on! It's easy. You will have to sign up for an account, and yes, it's one of those sites that makes you check your email before you can play. But once you're signed up, just choose whether to start a game or join an existing game. You'll either be given a picture that someone drew, or some words that describe a scene, and you'll be asked to give whichever you didn't get. Describing a picture is pretty easy, just click the note and type. On the other hand, if you're asked to illustrate, your MS Paint skillz will be put to the test! Six brush sizes and eleven colors are all you get! Luckily, it doesn't make much difference if you're a good artist or not, since the beauty of the game lies in the hilarious misinterpretations of bad drawings. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to
What!? Analysis? OK, fine: Back in high school, I loved art classes, because the teacher would tell me what to draw and I'd do it with a passable amount of skill. At the same time, however, I knew that I'd never cut it as a career artist, because I couldn't ever come up with something to draw on my own. Now, I have BPT to take care of that task, and it does so beautifully, allowing enough words to give a decent description while still giving you plenty of leeway to add in details as you see fit. On the flip side, it's often challenging to concisely sum up an entire picture in a dozen words rather than the usual 1000.
Sigh. Didn't think I'd get away that easily. Guess I'd better finish this review…
In BPT, participating is only half the fun. The other half is in following the randomness that you help create through all its bizarre mutations. In fact, you don't even need to sign up to view the archives. In fact, you could easily spend many happy hours just reading through past games. Usually, the story morphs in disjointed but still amusing ways, but occasionally you find gems that tell a nice little vignette.
Just be aware that this is, after all, the internet, and you may come across pictures that are juvenile, lewd, or downright obscene … in fact, roughly half of the games are marked as mature. The players are pretty good about marking when games have mature content, but it is self-reported, so do be careful. You can change your account settings so that you'll never see any part of any game that has been marked mature, but this also means that if someone adds mature content after you've played a game, that you won't be able to view the finished product.
So there you have it. A participatory writing/drawing game based on the old favorite playground game Telephone, that's chock full of hilarious random divergences and oozes fun like bacon oozes grease! Now, can I please
Warning: Because Broken Picture Telephone features people drawing anonymously over the internet, there will inevitably be bad language and depictions of adult situations. Although these are usually tagged as mature content, please exercise caution if you are offended by explicit content.
Update: Since the game has been offline for several months now, we have removed the tags so it won't show up in our normal tag listing pages. If and when the game comes back online, we'll reinstate the tags. Tags saved here in case the game comes back online: art, browser, drawing, free, funny, html, multiplayer, rating-r, simpleidea, turnbased