Mattel has announced the release of 'Pictionary Vs. AI', a spin on the classic board game that uses AI to take the guesswork out of the game. Like the original, players take a card and draw what they've selected before scanning a QR code on their smartphones, activating an AI that attempts to guess the drawing.
Mattel's global head of games hopes that the refreshed gameplay will update the family classic for a modern audience, changing family game night for the better (or the worse). I'm not sure this will make it into our list of the best board games.
The game's new AI element was trained using "millions of user-submitted drawings" and integrates an AI model created by Google for the game 'Quick, Draw!'. However, Mattel has reassured consumers that the game is not a secret ploy to train Google's AI, as the system "can only recognize images from the Pictionary Vs. AI preset database" – at least that's reassuring I suppose.
To switch up the classic gameplay even more, the AI will randomly drop interactive challenges such as drawing with your eyes closed or without the use of your hands. Instead of guessing each other's drawings for points, users bet on which doodles will be detected by the AI and progress up the board if their predictions are correct.
Per The Verge: "Pictionary Vs. AI continues to build upon our impressive portfolio by offering a new, modern way that fans can engage with the brand, combined with hilarious quick draw gameplay they’ve always loved," says Ray Adler, Mattel's Vice President. While it's certainly cool to see traditional board games get an AI update, I'm still on the fence as to how well this will go down with older generations come family game night.
Additionally, despite all its modern advancements, Pictionary's extensive drawing options have been significantly reduced, with only 224 prompts available (I guess AI can't do it all, yet). It's unclear how well the AI will be able to recognise your creations, but hey, at least it takes the guessing out of the game right? You know, the fun bit.
Pictionary Vs. AI is available to purchase via the Mattel website and is set to hit stores 2nd October, retailing for $24.99. While I love a bit of innovation, classic family board games are perhaps the last on my list of things that need to be AI-ified. But as one of the first of its kind, perhaps the game will mark the start of a future filled with AI-augmented board games (will this mean you don't need a friend to play with anymore?).
If you're after more weird board game news, check out the Babybel x Hasbro board game which is perhaps one of the strangest brand collaborations I've ever seen.