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Guess Who? (Game): 15 Downsides & Drawbacks (Unfair, Lack of…)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Playing board games have arguably many benefits, but they do also have drawbacks. Many consider playing board games as “time-consuming”, “unproductive”, and even “addictive”. While many would argue this is far from the truth, there is no denying that there is some merit in both arguments. 

It has been demonstrated that playing board games can have mental and physical health benefits. They can help improve critical thinking, memorization skills, hand-eye coordination, and even alleviate stress. However, with the good comes the bad. 

Board games can also be quite time-wasting, distracting, and even sometimes induce what is called abnormal behavior.

What about ‘Guess Who?’ though? Does this game designed for children 6+ years of age have any disadvantages and drawbacks? Well, if you have come for answers to these questions and more, you have come to the right place. 

We have compiled a list of the several disadvantages and drawbacks of the game ‘Guess Who?’ for your reading pleasure! 

1. Youngest Always Goes First

Going first in a game like ‘Guess Who?’ does provide an advantage as compared to going second. As the game rules state, “the younger player always goes first”, even if you are older, by a day or two, your opponent will always get to go first. In instances when two players are evenly matched, going first gives the younger opponent a slight edge.

2. Drawing Anita

At the start of the game, both players have to draw a character card from a deck of cards. The character you get is the person your opponent needs to guess. In the original game, released in the 80s, drawing Anita as your mystery person was the worst secret card you could ever hope of drawing. 

This is because Anita is the only person in ‘Guess Who?’ that has seven identity characteristics. She is a female, and in the original game, only 5 out of the total 24 characters were females. To top it all off, she is the only ethnic or ‘colored’ person in ‘Guess Who?’, making it extremely easy for your opponent to guess who you have. 

If you draw Anita as your secret identity, you could potentially lose the game after just one or two questions! 

3. Can Get Repetitive

‘Guess Who?’ is a game that relies heavily on asking questions that can help eliminate the most characters in one turn. After playing the game for a while, you will likely work out a series of questions that are most effective at achieving that goal. Soon you will find yourself asking the same questions over and over again, making for repetitive gameplay.

4. Number Of Players

‘Guess Who?’ is strictly a two-player game. There are variations online of ‘Guess Who?’ that allow for more than two players, but those versions are not even close to as popular as the original game. 

Unfortunately, as it is meant for two players, if you are in a group, some of your friends will have to be left out and wait their turn before they can battle. 

5. Debatable Questions and Answers

In a game such as ‘Guess Who?’ you have to trust that the answers to your questions are being answered honestly by your opponent. Lying, of course, can get you disqualified. However, it is not uncommon to sometimes have instances where the questions asked or answers given are debatable. 

Advanced strategies that include asking ‘compound questions’ can make questions confusing for a player who is relatively new to the game. They may think they have answered correctly, but there can be instances where you can deem those answers to be incorrect, leading to a debate and even arguments. 

That is why before playing, it is always best to lay down some ground rules as to what is acceptable and what isn’t.

6. Drawing Any Female Card

It wasn’t until 2012 that a six-year-old girl got her mom to email Hasbro (the owners of ‘Guess Who?’), asking them why there weren’t more females in the game? This question had a lot of merits and got many people asking the same. 

The fact that there are only 5 females and 19 males; doesn’t make any sense. Players who draw a female card as their secret identity have, in many ways, already lost the game. 

The first question most players ask is, “Is your person a girl?”. Answering yes to that question means they have already eliminated 19 people from their board. Whereas, if they have a boy and you ask the same question, you can only eliminate five people. 

7. Lacking Gender & Racial Diversity

Having five females wasn’t bad enough. In the original game, only one character (Anita) was of color. That made no sense. Not just in terms of gender or racial bias but also from a gameplay standpoint.

What was the point of having only one ethnic person? Why deliberately make a card no player would want to draw? Was it oversight or bias on the part of the makers? We’ll probably never know

8. Using Advanced Strategies

Players who understand the game and play it religiously use advanced strategies that an amateur player simply can’t compete with. These strategies include asking compound questions and using binary search tactics to eliminate at least half of the people on the board per question.

9. Not As Popular As Other Board Games

Even though many million copies of ‘Guess Who?’ have been sold worldwide, the game isn’t as popular as other board games. Finding players who love the game as much as you can sometimes be difficult, not just face-to-face but also online.

10. Bending The Rules

‘Guess Who?’ is a simple game designed for children. As such, it has simple rules. Players who play the game regularly will often be able to bend the rules in their favor. 

Strategies like compound questioning (where the use of ‘or’ can further a yes/no question) is one such example. For instance, instead of asking questions such as “Does your person have black hair?”, you could ask something like “Does your person have black hair or wears glasses or has a big nose?”. 

Asking questions in this manner can greatly increase one’s chance of winning. It can also be considered as bending the rules.

11. Blind Luck

Many board games depend upon an element of luck when it comes to gameplay. ‘Guess Who?’ is less so, but still, luck can play a big factor. 

Let’s say you know that it is likely that on the next move, your opponent will guess your mystery person. Even if you have plenty of cards still remaining on your board, your best bet is to make a guess. 

If you guess correctly, you win. If you guess wrong, you lose, but in hindsight, you were going to probably lose anyway. Winning this way on luck alone can be quite frustrating at times, but it is all part of the game!

12. Lacking Durability

The original ‘Guess Who?’ board games and, to some degree, the new editions are lacking in terms of quality and durability. The boards are fragile and prone to breaking, and the cards are made out of paperboard, which can easily be destroyed by a bit of liquid spillage. 

13. Create Undue Competition

Any multi-player competitive board game can result in some form of undue competition. Being a two-player game, ‘Guess Who?’ is no different.

14. Not As Fun For Adults

The original version of ‘Guess Who?’ might not be as fun to play for adults as it would be for children. We are not talking just about adult vs. adult play, but also adult vs. child. As an adult, you will find the game too easy. Whereas, your kid might find it a lot harder to understand, especially at first.

15. Short Games

An average game of ‘Guess Who?’ doesn’t last more than ten minutes. This means that you end up playing many games over the course of one session. Playing the same game over and over again can become tedious and repetitive quickly.

All in All

Instead of focusing on the overall drawbacks of board games, we decided to focus solely on some of the most common drawbacks of playing ‘Guess Who?’. However, this is by no means an indication of how good or bad the game is. 

For many of us, ‘Guess Who?’ is a nostalgic game that brings back memories of fun times playing with our siblings and friends when we were younger. The game is also quite fun and can teach children many important lessons

Pick up the game and play it yourself to find out what side of the coin you land on!

JC Franco

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.