Thankfully, most artists don’t have to draw their masterpiece in under a minute. For Pictionary players, however, artistic talent was only half the battle. The other half was having team members who could decipher your scribbles fast enough to guess what they were, making this 80s board game an instant hit among the masses.

Created in 1987, Pictionary took the charades to another level – the drawing board. Each game came with hundreds of cards with words and phrases of varying difficulty. One team member was given the responsibility of drawing pictures on a big pad to represent this word or phrase, while team members shouted out their guesses and the artist had to silently nod yes or no to an onslaught of yelling. It was one thing if your word was “fish” or “chair”, but when faced with concepts like “war” and “The Declaration of Independence”, your true artistic calling was put to the test.

Players worked around the game board, which featured spaces in six different colors. Each color corresponded to a different category, such as object, action, “difficult”, and so on. Teams rolled dice and moved around the board, working with whatever category they landed on. Some words and phrases had a mark beside them to signify that this one was going to be extra hard. In these cases, each team’s artist drew the word at the same time, racing against the other team for who could guess correctly first. Every correct answer resulted in another turn, and once a word was missed, the next team would go.

Pictionary was so popular it took on a life of it’s own. Like Trivial Pursuit before it, it was the party game of choice. In 1987, the Pictionary-inspired TV game show Win, Lose or Draw was introduced, and ten years later, Pictionary got a syndicated game show of it’s own. Even though the fad stage has passed, the game continues to be a regular seller in toy stores, and with the introduction of Pictionary Junior for the kids, the game remains a family favorite.

If you have fond memories of playing the game of Pictionary with friends and family, we’d love to hear your stories and thoughts in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this classic game, here at Retroland.

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