A Three-Player Pictionary Variant
by William Hoza, Paige Kubenka, and Alicia Torres
Background
Pictionary is a classic game in which players try to guess what other players are drawing. Quintessentially, Pictionary is played by two teams of two players (one teammate draws while the other teammate guesses.)

Hasbro's official Pictionary rules also describe a "three-player" version of the game. In Hasbro's "three-player" game, one player is designated as the artist for the entire game; the other two players compete to win by guessing. Hasbro's game has some merits, but the poor artist can hardly be considered a "player" in the game. Hasbro's game is more like a two-player guessing game.

In this document, we describe a Pictionary variant with no teams in which every player has a shot at winning. Our game is designed for three players, but it also works with more than three players.
How to play our game
Necessary materials: Gameplay: Winning:
Discussion
The reader may wonder why our rules are so complicated. For the sake of discussion, let's consider some simpler rules, focusing on the three-player case. Let's imagine a game where players take turns being the artist; the artist and guesser each get one point when the the word is successfully identified; the first player to 10 points wins the game. To handle ties, we'd better stipulate that the game continues until some player has strictly more points than each other player.

These simple rules have a serious defect: in some situations, a player knows that he or she will not win even though the game isn't over. For example, suppose the scores are (8, 9, 9). It's impossible for A to win, because if A ever gets a point, then so does either B or C.

To fix this defect, let's change the winning condition. Let's say the game continues until some player has at least 10 points and is ahead by a margin of at least two points ("game to 10, win by two"). These rules still have some serious defects: Our rules avoid all these defects: Admittedly, even with our rules, there are still some contrived scenarios in which someone might choose to not guess or choose to not draw. For example, the two guessers might feel that the artist is actually much better than they are and is only eligible to draw due to bad luck, so they might refrain from guessing. For another example, suppose A is the artist and B is eligible to win. A might feel that B is particularly good at guessing A's drawings and A is particularly good at guessing C's drawings. A might therefore choose to not draw. In practice, we haven't encountered these issues.

We hope you enjoy our game!
Acknowledgments
We thank Paige Hardy for helping us playtest.