To app or not to app

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It's holiday time and games are always a good choice for a gift.

It's holiday time and games are always a good choice for a gift. Draw Something, which is a popular drawing app for smart phones and tablets, has been turned into a family game, but I did not find it as fun as the app.

In the game, 3-4 people get a tiny notepad, a cardboard folder, and a crayon. The first player draws a card from the pile. A card is about the size of an standard playing card, and on it there are three words to draw. You pick one and depending on the difficulty, each drawing can earn gold coins, which are really just points. Once the person has chosen a word to draw, they hold it up for the rest of the players to guess what it is. The first player to guess correctly gets the amount of coins/points that word was worth. The artist also gets the same amount of points. The game continues on until someone earns 15 points, and they win.

I believe that this game has some design flaws. First, I don’t think that each player needs their own cardboard folder to keep their drawing supplies in. It also serves as a point tracker, where you slide a tiny piece of plastic along the bottom to show points. When I played the game, my family and I often had to search for the trackers because they kept falling off. I didn’t find a reason why the folders were necessary to the game, other than hiding your pad so people couldn’t see your card and drawing. Also, each player gets a different colored crayon, which was very inconvenient because they wear down and are clumsy. Pencils would be better and easier to sharpen. Another problem is that when you hold up the very small drawing, it is hard for everyone to see at the same time. The only way to be fair is if the artist sits across from the other players. If your vision is not great, don't even try!

Draw Something can be priced anywhere from $17 to almost $25, depending where you are shopping. I don't think that is a reasonable price, because the game is not exciting and doesn’t provide any different entertainment than the available free app. It was almost like a Pictionary knock-off, so I didn’t feel that it was new or different. It is much more fun as game on a digital device. Then you can play with someone somewhere else, or right next to you.

This holiday season, I don’t suggest getting going out in the cold to buy this game. There’s a free (and $2) version of the game on most app stores (Apple, Droid, Amazon, etc.) that can provide hours of entertainment. The game will never stop and there isn’t a winner or loser. You can also buy color packs or hints with your coins earned guessing and drawing words. So, save some bucks this year by going with fun, free electronic games, or stick with a favorite standard, like Pictionary. Happy drawing!