Thank you Dave for writing these!
What is the Sentence Game?
The Sentence Game (sometimes known as "Sentence Picture Sentence," "Paper Telephone," or even "Eat Poop You Cat") has often been described as a cross between the games Pictionary and Telephone. It could just as well be described as a cross between a Rorschach test and a graphic novel, although for some reason it never is.
How is the (non-internet version) game played?
Each game begins with a sentence - often a deeply disturbing or completely abstract sentence - written on the top of a piece of paper. The sentence is passed to the next player, who draws a picture in a futile attempt to depict the sentence. They then fold the paper so that the sentence is no longer visible, and pass the paper to yet another player, who must write a new sentence based on what he or she thinks the picture is showing. Then this third player folds the picture out of view and passes the sentence on to another player, so repeating the process. Please read the terms of playing for the legal stuff.
When does it end?
When the paper is filled up. The game should always ends on a sentence, not a picture. In the online version the game is over after five sentences have been inscribed and four pictures have been summoned forth. When this happens the sentences are read aloud to the assembled group, who are often overcome with laughter and/or embarrassment.
What is this web site?
This is a resource for playing the sentence game online! Using complicated computer things, Eric managed to allow you to play social party games in the privacy of your own home or office. Simply click on the "Play" button and you will be randomly assigned to an ongoing game.
And then what?
Well, if you are presented with a picture it is pretty self-explanatory. You should write your sentence in the box. If you are presented with a sentence then you must draw a corresponding picture. You can use MS Paint or Photoshop or scanned images you draw in your own blood, but keep in mind that your finished product must be less than 500 x 500 pixels and also smaller than 100kB. You've got an hour to do either before the game gives up and opens up that game to other players.
Here is what I do. Go to MS Paint and click on "Image" at the top, and then click on "Attributes." Change the size of the of image to 500 x 500 pixels. There's your space to work with. Remember that the image will be displayed at this (100%) scale, so don't zoom in and go crazy with little details. Then, when you get ready to save your image, click on "Save as Type" (below where you put the filename) and save as a GIF, JPG, or PNG (i hear this is the best). If you save as BMP (the MS Paint default) your image will be too big for the game to handle. Then click on "browse" back on the Sentence Game interface, find the image you just saved, and upload it to the game. You'll get a chance to confirm your submission before it's final.
You idiot, that is the worst way possible to do this.
If you have a better idea, then you don't need my help to tell you how to make your image the right size.
What are the rules for sentences?
Please do your best to keep within these bounds -- makes it more fun!
What are the rules for drawing?
No words! You can use single letters or numbers if absolutely necessary and if they don't give things away. Chemical formula are sometimes allowed, too. Essentially, if you feel that you are making things too easy, don't do it - it is hard to cheat in a game with no winners. On the other hand, if a few letters allow you to make an absolutely hilarious drawing, feel free to go ahead. Here are some examples:
Good-natured sex, drugs, and violence is all part of the game, but you don't have to make your drawings too explicit. Keep your audience in mind. At the moment, there is no way to limit games on the site to a specific group of players. Think of the children!
"Clean up" is allowed (but only in extreme cases!!) So, for example if you're supposed to draw a bear having sex with a goat, you can draw them having tea together, playing parcheesi, etc... HOWEVER, try to maintain as much of the sentence as you can -- see if just changing one word will clean it up.
How do I start a Game, Damn it!
The secret to life, the universe, and everything... New games can be started on the front page, but only when TSG is in need of more games. TSG limits the number of currently active games so that the games in progress are finished more quickly. The decision to make the new-game submission box visible is made by factoring in the number of currently active games, how many people are currently playing, how many games currently can be played by most players, plus by throwing virtual darts at a virtual dartboard. Due to these factors, the best time to start new games is when lots of people are playing and lots of current games are being finished. (this tends to be evening-time for the Americas). There's a request in to try to even this out for European, Asian, African, and Australian players -- which may happen if I ever get some free time!
How do I look at my games?
Games that are still being played are inaccessible. You'll get an email (if you checked that box) when a game you've participated in is over - click the link to view the game. All of the completed games can be examined through the "Archives" link on the main page.
I'm new and I don't understand what's gonig on in the sentences or pictures!
In the early days of the online sentence game, it was just a game for a small group of friends and in-jokes abounded! The first group of online sentence game players are all friends - and many have established sentence-game avatars. For instance, Jon is a canoeist and often depicted with a paddle, while Rick, who loves cocktails, is often shown with a martini glass (or *as* a martini-glass-stick-person). Joe, an astronomer, has evetually become referred to as a stick figure with Saturn for a head. Lately, some of the regulars have been included in sentence games and some have earned representations. For the current game, you're welcome to use creative ways to represent other players or celebrities. (Paris Hilton might be reprsented as a stick figure with a baloon for a head?). Since the game has grown, all sorts of new "memes" have been created. Check out the wiki if you'd like to understand... or just happily dive in. Anyway, confusion makes the game go round, and some of the most memorable games often occur when someone is mysteriously transformed into a Wookie or "cross-dressing Santa Claus" halfway through.
Why do I always get stuck drawing pictures?
I suspect this is because players always have time to write a sentence but don't always have time to complete a picture. This tends to back the game up around getting pictures drawn, not around getting sentences written. It doesn't help that certain people, without naming any names, tend to think this is the "Paragraph Game" which certainly doesn't encourage people to try and draw a quick picture at work.
How come I can't play? It gives me some funny error message.
After you participate in a particular game, you're not allowed to play that game again. If you've played in all of the games on the site too recently, or if the games you haven't played in are currently being played, you won't be eligible to play in any more. In this case the site will tell you to submit a new sentence and start a new game.
BUT, there is also a limit on how many games can go on at once, so that impatient people like yourself do not start seventy-five thousand games that then take years to finish. If you are ineligible to play in any games at the moment, and also the site is already handling the max number of games it allows, you will get an error message. In this case your only recourse is to bother your friends and tell them that they need to play more. Or just go get a cup of coffee or something. Once someone finishes a currently active sentence, that sentence will be freed up and you will likely be allowed to play again. Feed the addiction!
What is a "Week Of Insanity"
The "week of insanity" or "WOI" was created to flush out a set of games. The reasoning behind this originated during testing when the beta testers got annoyed that they hadn't gotten to view their in-progress games because game-play was slow. In the early days of the sentence game there were only about 5 testers, so it took about a week for each gameto be completed. During a WOI, the sentencegame community is requested to play often - thus games are completed quickly and you get to view them faster! Now that there are a large number of players, the Week of Insanity is no longer necessary -- however, it may be fun to start one up now and then, just for fun.
I'm a fool and forgot my password!"
Don't worry -- you're not really a fool. It happens to the best of us. Send a password reset request to the feedback page -- your identity will be confirmed and a new password sent out. You MUST have used a valid email address for registration and you MUST include your username and email address in the feedback form to get a new password!
Why are there Siberian Gnomes hiding in my woodlot?
It is hard to say! Stay on your guard at all times, and try to travel with a group.