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Subject: In defense of Pictionary rss

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Joe Grundy
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I'm with you.

There is a limit to what constitutes "fair play" in resorting to codified drawing, but we play with pretty specific rules... apart from a predesignated coupla items, no drawing things where the meaning is iconic. ie no letters, digits, symbols, logos, or icons of any sort. In years of playing this never caused a problem. Our playing groups always wanted to play in the spirit of the game.

My experience... artists are more likely to lose.
 
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Mark Rollings
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My family still has fun with this. It's definitely one strictly for Christmas though along with Taboo, Balderdash and Trivial Persuit. There's no excuse for marking it down though - it does what it does very well.
 
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Chris Shaffer
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markrollings wrote:
My family still has fun with this. It's definitely one strictly for Christmas though along with Taboo, Balderdash and Trivial Persuit. There's no excuse for marking it down though - it does what it does very well.


You're assuming that we're all rating games on some objective standard of "how good they do what they do." That's not the case at all. The BGG rating system measures each individual's opinion of the game and desire to play the game. Thus, I have a perfectly good excuse for giving Pictionary a 2. I personally can't stand the game, and would rather have my teeth cleaned. I am totally justified in rating the game however I choose, because it's my opinion and not yours.

If the BGG rating system was objective, we could simply poll a handful of experts, define the appropriate rating, and be done with it.
 
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Chris Shaffer
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ideogram wrote:
I consider Pictionary the most underrated game on BGG. I give it a 9, at this time its BGG average is 5.85. Most people who rate it 3 or lower say they "hate drawing" or "are not artistic". This completely misses the point of the game; it's not a drawing game, it's a communication game. As such it is FAR more important that you give good feedback when you are guessing and respond well to feedback when you are drawing.

...

A large number of people mentioned that the game led to frequent arguments and could ruin marriages. To these people I can only ask: play with partners much? If you can't help but yell at your partner in Pictionary, I don't see you having much fun at Bridge, or even Tichu, either.


Some of us simply don't enjoy high-pressure, speed-timed communication games or party games. The other games you mention, such as Bridge, Tichu and even Puerto Rico don't have a timer, which makes a huge difference for me.

The game puts people under intense pressure to perform (draw) and communicate (guess) under a strict time limit -- and you're surprised it provokes arguments among some people??????
 
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Joe Grundy
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TheCat wrote:
markrollings wrote:
There's no excuse for marking it down though - it does what it does very well.

You're assuming that we're all rating games on some objective standard of "how good they do what they do."

Personally I didn't read him that way. I read it as his personal opinion... he likes to play it with certain people at timed intervals, and enjoys it in that context.

TheCat wrote:
Thus, I have a perfectly good excuse for giving Pictionary a 2. I personally can't stand the game, and would rather have my teeth cleaned. I am totally justified in rating the game however I choose, because it's my opinion and not yours.

I don't think anyone suggested differently. Merely that Pictionary has a bad rap, possibly by association with light party games in general, even though it's a well balanced interesting thoughtful and fun game for many people.

TheCat wrote:
The game puts people under intense pressure to perform (draw) and communicate (guess) under a strict time limit -- and you're surprised it provokes arguments among some people??????

I don't know about Adam, but I'm not so much surpised as bewildered. "Intense pressure"? But... it's a game! I confess I will never understand people getting into arguments with their partners over a game. It doesn't surprise me because there's so many examples and I can see many of the parameters. I can "plug in the numbers" and usually predict the argument, but I don't understand it. (I do understand how arguments may arise over rules.)

The person drawing is communicating too. Yes, no, sorta, you missed this part of the drawing (put circle around it / draw over it heavier), you're being distracted by that part (put a cross through it).

For me, this game is an opportunity to laugh at ourselves... to delight in somehow drawing one elegent swirl sufficiently reminiscent to invoke a tree or horse or woman, or to painstakingly render the frame and structure of a bicycle only to get guesses like "geometry" and thereby highlight and enjoy those subtle differences in thinking that make us us.

Or, it's just darn good fun.
 
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Dave Lartigue
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Pictionary suffers from the same problem that Childrens games have, in the way the BGG ratings are designed. A rating of 9 indicates that you "always" want to play it. In your rating for Station Master (a 7.6), you say, "I'd be happy to play this game as much as I can." Do you find yourself playing Station Master and thinking, "I really would rather be playing Pictionary."

Party games and kids games have the problem of being situational. If I have my hardcore gamer friends over, the ones who will happily play E&T, Power Grid, Princes of Florence, etc, there's no way I'm going to bust out "Taboo". On the other hand, if I'm with a group that would find Settlers of Catan "too weird", Apples to Apples will satisfy just fine. Same with kid's games. I'll happily play Sorry! with my five year old nephew, but the missus and I aren't going to play it over Lost Cities or Fjords.

What this means for me is, such games can really only get as high as a 6 according to the BGG rating descriptions. The best party game in the world is still one I only want to play under certain circumstances. By my reasoning, then, a 5.85 rating for a party game is actually damn good.
 
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I don't call Pictionary a bad game. It is very good at what it sets out to be. I just never, ever want to play it.

I've played this game with lots and lots of people. Different kinds of people with different temperaments. It seems that every time I play, someone's feelings get hurt. Of course, this is not intrinsic in the game. I have just sat through too many ensuing "silent treatments," people going home early, people giving up on the game because they were hurt, etc. to ever want to play again.

I think it boils down to, I don't like to play games with babies. And there seems to be something about this game that either attracts the immature or brings it out. I don't know the magic element in Pictionary that turns adults into children. Maybe because I only play this with non-gamers (those who would think german games are lame or silly) and many non-gamers do not understand the joy of playing vs. the need to win.

Again, it's not the game itself. I'm a crappy drawer and can have fun with it ("Baby fishmouth is sweeping the nation?"). And I usually am having a good time when suddenly an uncomfortable vibe falls over the game because someone feels angry or hurt or whatever.

Because the ratings are totally subjective and reflect my desire to play the game (or not play it, as the case may be), I rate it fairly low.

And I don't think it's just me. Honestly, everyone who has played the game has a story about someone chucking a pencil across the room, or someone quitting the game or refusing to try, or whatever. If you've found a good group who rises above this, then that's great. Enjoy it. Rate it high. Get the Deluxe Edition. I just don't care to play.


 
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Chris Talbot
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Like others who have posted in this thread, I rated Pictionary based on the BGG ratings definitions. I don't enjoy Pictionary at all. It's simply the type of game that I don't find fun. However, I could possibly be convinced to play if it was what everybody else wanted to play (and I was drunk enough), so my rating is a 3/10. Is it good for a drawing/communications/charades-on-paper type of game? Probably. Since I don't like such games, I couldn't tell you for sure, though. Since I don't find it fun and I would rather not play it, my rating stands as it is.

Chris
 
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David Tolin
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Legomancer wrote:
Pictionary suffers from the same problem that Childrens games have, in the way the BGG ratings are designed. A rating of 9 indicates that you "always" want to play it. In your rating for Station Master (a 7.6), you say, "I'd be happy to play this game as much as I can." Do you find yourself playing Station Master and thinking, "I really would rather be playing Pictionary."

Party games and kids games have the problem of being situational. If I have my hardcore gamer friends over, the ones who will happily play E&T, Power Grid, Princes of Florence, etc, there's no way I'm going to bust out "Taboo". On the other hand, if I'm with a group that would find Settlers of Catan "too weird", Apples to Apples will satisfy just fine. Same with kid's games. I'll happily play Sorry! with my five year old nephew, but the missus and I aren't going to play it over Lost Cities or Fjords.

What this means for me is, such games can really only get as high as a 6 according to the BGG rating descriptions. The best party game in the world is still one I only want to play under certain circumstances. By my reasoning, then, a 5.85 rating for a party game is actually damn good.


Hmmm... This brings up an interesting question. I rate some of my games on my list with different criteria, and I note the criteria in my description for the game. I've always considered this to be a good workaround, since the BGG criteria aren't really fair. For example, I have more than a few games (Chaos in der Geisterbahn and Kayanak, for example) that I don't really ever want to play but that I can recognize as great games for my kids. So, they're rated highly on my list and the description has a note saying "Rating=Kid Value." I also have a few that say "Rating=Party Value."

But, now I wonder... Reading your comments made me realize that my ratings for these games--though personally justified and supported in my profiel--are possibly inflating the average scores in a manner that goes against the intent of the rating system. What do other people think? Does anyone else do this?

On the one hand, I don't want to wrongly inflate a rating, but, on the other hand, when I'm looking for new games to buy for my kids or a party, I want the scores I'm researching to reflect people with those interests. In other words, I don't want a wargame fanatic deciding whether Enchanted Forest is a good kid's game. Right?
 
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Steve Bernhardt
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Get used to being perplexed by ratings at times. I get weirded out everytime someone says Shadows over Camelot is a decent game. As for Pictionary, 5.85 isnt a bad rating for a party game here. Personally, I would give it a 5....slightly boring, take it or leave it.
 
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I was surprised by the low rating of pictionary when I got here too. I think it's a great party game. I've never seen the adults-acting-like-babies syndrome or anything else - whenever I've played, there's been a lot of laughing and talking over the silly pictures drawn. For a party game, that's just about a perfect result.

I do "adjust" the BGG rating system a bit. Instead of 9 meaning "I always want to play," I take it to mean "I always want to play when the situation is right." But that's the only thing that makes sense - if you rate Caylus a 10, that you always want to play and always will, then do you want to play while you're asleep? While you're driving your car? While you're scuba diving? So obviously these numbers must be adjusted based on the proper time and place. For a party game, if I always want to play it when friends are over for a party and always will, then it's a 10 for me. (Note, Pictionary does not get a 10 from me, but it gets a lot higher than the BGG rating!!!)
 
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I'm one of those people who has a 1st Edition Pictionary and recently bought the Hasbro 20th anniversary edition on sale (mainly for the new/harder content, and the bits aren't bad, and the variants it comes with are neat). I think it's a great game, though the 3rd highest cause for divorce. shake

But, although I may rate it a 9 on its merits as a game, I have to agree with the others that the rating system here is skewed toward the personal taste of the site's patronage rather that an objective rating of the game on its own merits. I'd like to think that I rate a game on its merits, but as I look down my ratings, I'd have to say that it's just not the case. Oh well

Nick
 
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Nigel Buckle
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ideogram wrote:
Then there was the person who wrote:

'frequent' players adopt 'codes' and then act surprised when others call it cheating!

We played this game in my group almost every day for a year. Part of the beauty of the game is watching conventions develop, it's like witnessing the birth of language all over again. Drawing on shared context is the heart of communication; if you haven't experienced the game in a deeply shared context then you really don't know how deep the rabbit hole goes.


That was me, my full comment is:

Party Game for non-gamers - but definitely not my favourite (apples to apples is much better). Had games where the session disolves into bitter arguements too especially if 'frequent' players adopt 'codes' and then act surprised when others call it cheating!

It's a fact I don't play pictionary very often, it's not the sort of game my group would play, we wouldn't play party type games - unless we were at a party. In that situation I'd much prefer to play Apples to Apples. I have played pictionary with people (usually) couples who clearly play it frequently, and they do adopt codes - what's the difference between using a code say and me writing the code word in french as my picture? Or in chinese (assuming I know chinese and so does my team)? Chinese is a pictographic language? Sometimes these sessions have ended up with arguements when the team using codes has romped away with it (not surprisingly).

No different some other communication type party games - like Charades, you know the hand signs you communicate with them successfully and 'win', don't and you don't.

Point I was making is it's a party game that has a downside that I don't see in some other party games, making the game a BGG rating '2' for me:
Extremely annoying game, won't play it again which is what it is for me, if I'm in the situation where pictionary could be played I'd play something else. If the group could be convinced I'd try werewolf, otherwise a trivia type game or better Apple to Apples.

But of course that's my view and my experience, other people can (and do) love pictionary ... doesn't mean my rating is wrong, neither are the ratings of people who think it's a '10'.

Quote:
I think it's fair to say that most BGG'ers have a definite archetype game in mind, eurogame or wargame, and can't judge anything too different on its own merits.


Maybe, but I don't think that way - I rate games as I LIKE them, I'm not searching for the best game in category X. I'm rating games as I play them, and my rating changes over time. For example Titan would have been a solid '10' for me 15 years ago, now it's a '6', there are better games out there without the downsides to Titan, and without the nostalgia factor it could well be lower. Pictionary for me is a '2' - I don't want to play it.
 
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Bobby Warren
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TheCat wrote:
Some of us simply don't enjoy high-pressure, speed-timed communication games or party games. The other games you mention, such as Bridge, Tichu and even Puerto Rico don't have a timer, which makes a huge difference for me.

Puerto Rico should have a timer. The choices are fairly obvious once you adopt a strategy and spending a lot of time staring at the roles is just poor playing.

Quote:
The game puts people under intense pressure to perform (draw) and communicate (guess) under a strict time limit -- and you're surprised it provokes arguments among some people??????

I'm surprised when people get into arguments over games like this, or most games. Sheesh, lighten up...
 
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Peter Vrabel
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NickB wrote:

...
I think it's a great game, though the 3rd highest cause for divorce. shake
...


And what are the 1st and 2nd highest? Monopoly and risk respectivly?
 
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Tom "Snicker Daddy" Pancoast
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There are a couple problems with your position. Pictionary is one of my lowest ranked games. Here's my comment:

Quote:
Can't really blame the game. I just don't like drawing. Something like Cranium is OK, because it isn't the only thing you do.

I don't care how you slice it, if you don't like drawing, then this game isn't going to appeal to you. I suspect that alot of people feel the same way.

I also use the "how much do I want to play this?" scale, and while I can see other people having a blast with the game, I would be happy to never play it again. In contrast, my other 2 rating, Battle of the Sexes is truely a bad game.
 
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TheCat wrote:
The BGG rating system measures each individual's opinion of the game and desire to play the game. I am totally justified in rating the game however I choose, because it's my opinion and not yours.

I agree with this. Everyone is free to rate games here however they want without their preferences being questioned.

I personally can't understand why some people rate PR 1 or 2 and say its too long or complex, but I'm not going to try to change their mind about it. I just accept that some people don't like it.

ideogram wrote:
Really, I've never encountered this. Yes, people get frustrated, but to get your feelings hurt over it??? I am bewildered. There's a basic principle to playing on a team, you don't rag on your teammates. And for some reason all these people you've played with aren't team players. And I'll bet they were new to the game.

Thats a little naive. I'm sure its great if your gaming group consists of nice team players, but thats not always the case. People's feelings do get hurt during gameplay, and some people don't handle it as well as others.
 
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jgrundy wrote:
TheCat wrote:
markrollings wrote:
There's no excuse for marking it down though - it does what it does very well.

You're assuming that we're all rating games on some objective standard of "how good they do what they do."

Personally I didn't read him that way. I read it as his personal opinion... he likes to play it with certain people at timed intervals, and enjoys it in that context.


He said "There's no excuse for marking it down - it does what it does very well." That's not a personal opinion, it's a statement of fact. Clearly, many people have very legititmate excuses for marking it down, thus his statement of fact is incorrect.

Bobby4th wrote:
TheCat wrote:
Some of us simply don't enjoy high-pressure, speed-timed communication games or party games. The other games you mention, such as Bridge, Tichu and even Puerto Rico don't have a timer, which makes a huge difference for me.

Puerto Rico should have a timer. The choices are fairly obvious once you adopt a strategy and spending a lot of time staring at the roles is just poor playing.


I didn't say I want to spend a lot of time staring at the roles. To me, the timer in Pictionary is equivalent to having a 15 second timer in Puerto Rico, choosing the Captain, and saying that anyone who doesn't get their goods on the boat before the timer runs out loses the opportunity to ship.

Bobby4th wrote:
I'm surprised when people get into arguments over games like this, or most games. Sheesh, lighten up...


I didn't say I get in arguments. I said it's not surprising that some people get in arguments. Telling those people to "lighten up" isn't going to stop any arguments, nor will it improve my impression of Pictionary, I can assure you.

ideogram wrote:
Really, I've never encountered this. Yes, people get frustrated, but to get your feelings hurt over it??? I am bewildered. There's a basic principle to playing on a team, you don't rag on your teammates. And for some reason all these people you've played with aren't team players. And I'll bet they were new to the game.


Well, for one thing, not everyone is a team player. Many people aren't built that way. For another, it's an awfully big assumption that everyone who gets frustrated over Pictionary is ragging on their teammates. Most of the frustration I've seen has been directed at the game, or is the person getting frustrated with themselves. You don't know the people Goo has seen playing the game -- be careful about tarring them with a wide brush.

ideogram wrote:
Finally, we usually clue newbies in to the most common codes, like two horizontal lines meaning "two words", and a check mark meaning "you're on the right track", and an ear meaning "sounds like".


Well, what about people who can't draw a recognizable ear, like me?
 
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ideogram wrote:

If two people have played with each other a lot and the others have not, the solution is simple -- we don't let them play with each other. The game is about communicating with an arbitrary person, not just someone you know well.

Finally, we usually clue newbies in to the most common codes, like two horizontal lines meaning "two words", and a check mark meaning "you're on the right track", and an ear meaning "sounds like".

Would you consider bidding conventions in Bridge cheating?


Problem with splitting up couples is often in a party situation they want to play on the same team. I agree pictionary is probably a 'good' game if you play with people you don't know, but chances are if pictionary is pulled out it's by people who like it and play it ...

Bidding Conventions in bridge aren't cheating - BUT there are rules, so if you have your own system you need to alert your opponents when it occurs and you can always ask your opponents what they take their partner's bid to mean (sure they can lie, but if you're playing with people like that - don't bother!) and the bid information is useful to both sides. With pictionary if we know each other and we can use our own made up picture language we're gonna beat the other team that haven't got the code. Hence the arguements about 'cheating' - it's just a difference of opinion. Solution is as you say to ensure no 2 people on a team share a set of codes, or everyone knows them, but in my experience it never works out that way and then there's the potential for arguements. So on balance if I'm in a social setting where pictionary is viable I'd rather play something else, such as Apples to Apples.

Happy to play bridge though ...
 
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ideogram wrote:
I would not say I like drawing, in fact I have really no visual arts ability whatsoever. But I am an excellent Pictionary player, because I give and take feedback well. That's really the major point of my post, that Pictionary is a communication game that happens to use pencil and paper, not a drawing game.

Drawing a picture is a form of communication. When an entire game is based around making quick doodles, then I think it's justified to call it a drawing game.

Chris
 
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ideogram wrote:
Finally, we usually clue newbies in to the most common codes, like two horizontal lines meaning "two words", and a check mark meaning "you're on the right track", and an ear meaning "sounds like".

Note that this is now actually against the rules in the PB 20th Anniversary Edition.

Nick
 
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NickB wrote:
ideogram wrote:
Finally, we usually clue newbies in to the most common codes, like two horizontal lines meaning "two words", and a check mark meaning "you're on the right track", and an ear meaning "sounds like".

Note that this is now actually against the rules in the PB 20th Anniversary Edition.

Nick


Awe, shucks, part of the fun of the game is working out systems like that. Is there a link to the new rules somewhere, I'd like to see what they say.

I've seen people (including me) get very angry at Pictionary when I played it in my 20's (when the game was relatively new, 16 or so years ago), but I decided to try it out with my family this year, as my 2 sons (9 and 11) love to draw. We made sure that everybody understood what the words meant, and the boys did great! They beat my wife and I! We had many laughs, some hysterical, most over my incredibly bad drawing.

I think some people get upset, because to them it's not "just a game," but a reflection of their own self-worth or abilities/competence compared with others. It takes a certain amount of maturity (of the sort that doesn't necessarily come with age, it has more to do with self-confidence and general contentment with life) to be able to laugh at yourself and to enjoy yourself whether losing or winning.

It makes all the difference in the world sometimes, whether you perceive you're being laughed *with* or *at* in Pictionary, and having the right sort of crowd, where nobody's out to "prove anything," can make the game very enjoyable. I suspect, however, that that's true about most board games or other recreations, not just Pictionary.






 
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http://www.hasbro.com/common/instruct/Pictionary_20th_2005.p...

See the "Drawing Do's and Don'ts" box. Of course, that doesn't mean you have to follow their rules if you like the way you play

Nick
 
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ideogram wrote:
[q="tpancoast"]That's really the major point of my post, that Pictionary is a communication game that happens to use pencil and paper, not a drawing game.


This is very true. I'd concede that from another point of view, it's also a drawing game, because you do draw. I don't think the two classifications are mutually exclusive. But the "communication game" level is, I agree, really more fundamental.

The same skills you're talking about can be seen in, say, Taboo, in which there are no paper and pencils whatever. But there's the same dynamic of speed and responsiveness. Whether your partner's talking or drawing, success depends on things like how good you both are at exchanging continuous feedback, how clearly you can communicate the relation of things to each other, etc.
 
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Gelatinous Goo wrote:
I don't call Pictionary a bad game. It is very good at what it sets out to be. I just never, ever want to play it.

I've played this game with lots and lots of people. Different kinds of people with different temperaments. It seems that every time I play, someone's feelings get hurt. Of course, this is not intrinsic in the game. I have just sat through too many ensuing "silent treatments," people going home early, people giving up on the game because they were hurt, etc. to ever want to play again.



I'm also completely bewildered by how people can get into serious arguments over Pictionary (or outcome of games in general). Although I do know it happens. People may deny it, but I really believe that if a couple gets into a serious argument or even silent treatment over Pictionary then there are other more serious problems in the relationship already. I say, don't play games with people like that.
 
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