Playing Telephone On Paper


Are you hanging with friends and family over the holidays? How are you spending your time? If you're like Team Phenix, we take walks, eat far too much food, and play a few games.

Sometimes we use board games, or the addictive Heads Up app.  Of COURSE we like to geo-cache, but really we love chilling out and waiting for the next meal to eat!

However, in recent gatherings (and in large part due to the Fletcher/Shaw Thanksgiving shenanigans) we've fallen for one game in particular.

We call the game Telephone Pictionary or Paper Telephone.  I think it's similar to the boxed game "Telestrations." (Although I'm not sure why you would buy a boxed game when there's no set-up required -- but I digress.)

Remember when you play "telephone" with a group of people, someone starts by communicating a message to the person next to them, then that person tells the person next to them the message and on down the line the communication flows.  Usually, the original message gets distorted in the communication process, sometimes in radical ways.

The same principle is at work with Telephone Pictionary except there are drawings involved in the process and the outcomes are hysterical.

I think it's easier to understand if I just tell you the steps.

1. How many people are going to play the game?

The more the merrier, but this is best in groups of 6 or more so you have enough rounds for the message to get distorted.

2. Organize your paper stacks!

Every person needs to have a stack of paper equal to the number of people playing the game.  So if you have eight players, EVERY player needs a stack of eight pieces of paper.  The pieces don't have to be large, maybe 2x3 inches.

3. Pass out pens/pencils and something to write on.

For obvious reasons : )

4. Give everyone a couple of minutes to WRITE a phrase or word combination.

I tell people to "go wild" and think of whatever random idea comes to mind.  Recently my son wrote "angry pineapple" while someone else wrote "home of the brave."  Another time someone wrote "Sam plays this game better than Rosie."  (I love the competitive spirit!!)

5.  Set a one minute timer.

After everyone has come up with their initial phrase (this doesn't have to be on the clock), make someone time each subsequent round for a minute.  After everyone writes their initial phrase on the paper on top of their stack of paper, the time keeper says "go." Then everyone...

6. Passes the entire stack to their neighbor.

If you pass to your right, you always have to pass to your right.

7. Review the phrase then DRAW what you read.

The person  who receives the stack looks at the phrase, then quickly draws what the phrase means ON A BLANK PIECE OF PAPER. This is important: Put the sentence paper on the bottom.  You NEVER look at the pieces of paper behind other pieces of paper.  Not only is that cheating, it's no fun!

8. When the minute is up, you pass the entire stack to your neighbor again.

9.  Review the drawing then WRITE what you see

You will have another minute to look at what has been drawn then write down what you see.

10. Continue the Write/Draw/Write pattern until the stacks have no paper.

We usually finish drawing our own phrase and sometimes we don't recognize the origin!!

11. Review the results with the group.

The debrief is the best part.  You will be stunned how things go bad so quickly!

For example, here are three rounds in one recent exchange.  One slip of paper says, "puffy aliens and puffy marshmallows floating in space." The drawing isn't bad if you know what the sentence says AND you consider the "artist" only had one minute!  Still, the person who saw the drawing could only see, "the sumo wrestlers compete on the cobbles before the Princess Leia sun."




The above example was in the middle of a round, but this picture shows you what a full round looks like.  It starts with the phrase "I left my heart in San Francisco" and continues counter-clockwise until it hits the unlikely ending where a "possessed ventriloquist doll frightens citizens."I can't describe how much we love this game and hope you will too!!

Have fun!