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Backseat Drawing Review by Kathy Gelzer

Out of the Box
609 Bennett Road
Dodgeville, WA 53533

If you like games, especially ones both adults and children enjoy, read on. Backseat Drawing is a game for four to eight players, ages 12 to adult. Our family found that we were able to play with younger children if we adapted the rules a bit. The game only takes about 20-30 minutes to play.

It is kind of the opposite of Pictionary. Instead of trying to get your teammate to guess what you are drawing, you are trying to get your teammate to guess what he is drawing. The game includes two 8 x 10-inch sturdy whiteboards, four black marking pens, two erasers, and a box of two-sided cards with the names of things written on them. One side of the cards is "easy," and the other side is "advanced."

The Directors on each team look at a card from the case, and together they begin to direct or instruct the Artists on their respective teams to draw the object written on the card. Here are some examples of things to draw: lips, television, cake, road, heart, crown, tree house, milk, and whale. The Directors, of course, cannot name the object, name a part of the object, or give clues about a part of the item or how it is used. The Artist (and any other team members) tries to guess what is being drawn. No questions are allowed. When a team correctly guesses what is being drawn, they get a point. Each round, a new Director and Artist are chosen for each team so that every one gets a turn at each job. The game is over when a team wins seven points.

Other rules are no hand gestures and no pointing to any part of the white board. You may instruct the Artist to draw specific types of lines and shapes in specific areas of the board and in relation to what is already drawn. For example, you can tell the Artist to draw a zigzag line down diagonally across the board or to draw a half-circle at the bottom of the board. Then you can tell the Artist to draw some other shape or line in relation to what he has already drawn.

It may sound simple, but this game is deceptively tricky. Your mind gets stretched as you first must conceptualize a simple way to draw the object and then carefully describe the components of the object through clear instructions. The order and the pace of the directions are important considerations. Listening skills are also honed.

We found that the tendency to listen to the other team's clues and to watch the other team's drawing interfered with and sometimes negated the efforts of one's own team, so we modified the rules so that only one team was playing at a time, using a 3-minute time limit. This had the further benefit of allowing the opposing team the pleasure of watching the action. If the object was correctly guessed within the time limit, then a point was awarded--otherwise not. Then the second team would take a turn.

Backseat Drawing gets a "thumbs up" from this gaming family. It provides good fun, and it's good for the brain, whatever your age.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2009