Saturday, April 5, 2014

Picture Telephone with the artists of Emerald City Comic Con

This year at Emerald city Comic Con I played Picture Telephone with 25 comic book professionals.

If you want to skip to the pictures of the games without the preamble, just scroll down.

While I was at ECCC I was walking around the artist hall and thinking about how much trouble I have interacting with the artists. I generally don't have any money to spend and I never recognize most of them, so I tend to feel kind of guilty. I'm there acting like I'm in a museum and they are hoping that I will buy something or recognize them. So I figured since I'm a game designer I should think of a game that I could play for the artists. I also notice that it seems hard for the artists to interact with one another since they are stuck at a booth all day, so my even better idea was to facilitate a game they would all play with each other.

The game I decided on is known by a lot of names, I first knew it as Broken Picture Telephone from a website that is now sadly offline, since then I've heard it referred to as Exquisite Corpse (which is definitely a part of the game but Exquisite Corpse is really the name of a different thing as well), Eat Poop You Cat (which I think is reference to an early play session of the game), and most recently a board game version of it was released called Telestrations. I think I'm just going to start calling it Picture Telephone because that seems like the most descriptive, least confusing title for the game.

I didn't design the game. The way you play is you have the first player write down a description of something, anything for the next player to draw, without showing anyone else. Then the next player reads the description and draws it, again without showing anyone else. The description is then hidden somehow, either by folding over the part of the piece of paper it is written on or having it on a separate piece of paper that is removed. The third player then writes a description of the second player's drawing without seeing the original description. The fourth player makes a drawing of the third player's description without seeing the second player's drawing and so on.

It's best played with a large group of people, and by the end you are left with a drawing or description that probably has nothing to do whatsoever with what it started out as. Half of the fun is looking back at the game once it's finished and seeing the humorous evolution of the original idea. I think it's most fun when no one intentionally derails the original idea and just lets it occur naturally, but clever and artistic interpretations along the way can be a lot of fun.

Anyways, I ran two games of Picture Telephone at ECC with the artists in the dealer's and artist's halls. I wish I could have included all of the artists but it took a lot longer then I thought, and some were too busy or weren't able to play for some reason or another anyways. By the end I think 25 people contributed, many of whom were professional artists, some of whom were professionals in some other area of comics such as writers or editors. I had one person contribute who was just a con-goer who happened to come up to the right booth at the right time. I was able to figure out who everyone was except two people (the random con-goer and the girl running the fake machine of death) who I've contacted via email, so I hope to add their information in once they contact me. (Edit: Machine of Death girl has been identified!)

Anyways, here are the games, presented in their ridiculously large original resolution. Enjoy!

And here's game 2:

Here's links to full resolution versions of the games: Game A Game B

Also for some reason I stopped using this blog for this while but I obviously need a blog for a lot of the things I do. So I'm using it again.


  1. that was really fun. thanks orion for coming 'round to my booth and letting me play.

    ~alexis st. john

    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it and I really appreciate you saying so. Thanks for playing.

  2. A big thank you for doing this and posting/sharing the results!

    -Dominick D.

    1. Thanks for playing! It's amazing how similar your Winnie the Pooh was to the one before it.