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Pictionary vs. Charades: 12 Things To Consider (Differences, Similarities,…)

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

Humans have been using interesting games to make each day worthwhile for centuries now. And what better way to kill some time than playing the likes of Pictionary and Charades. These are two famous games that are often associated with each other but are somehow quite different. 

Both games provide entertainment to anyone who plays it, but some usually prefer one over the other. Why? Below are a few things to consider when trying to decide whether to play Pictionary or Charades at your next family gathering or get-together with friends. 

The games’ differences will give you more insight into why some people love Pictionary and others love Charades

Pictionary vs. Charades:

  1. Space and location
  2. Number of players
  3. Needed equipment
  4. Categories
  5. The artists
  6. Aim of the game
  7. Gameplay
  8. The do’s
  9. The don’ts
  10. Pointing system
  11. Time limit
  12. Game variations

Given the commonalities of the two games, there are still various ways to tell each apart. Read further to understand how the two games are similar and different from one another.

12 Things to Consider When Choosing Between Pictionary and Charades

Spending time with family or friends has never been complete without playing some good old entertaining games that bring out the competitiveness within each other. Pictionary and Charades are games that have been a staple choice of many. To identify what to play, below are things to consider about Pictionary and Charades. 

1. Space and Location

When playing, whether Pictionary or Charades, it is essential to consider where you will play. Always see if there is enough space before you start playing the game. These games are most of the time played in a shared room like the living room. Family and friends gather around the living room for a casual gaming session. 

Since both games involve physical movements, it is necessary to organize and prepare a wide and spacious area before the game starts. Pictionary requires less space as there is no actual acting out of movements involved in the game.

2. Number of Players

Both Pictionary and Charades are considered group games. However, the number of players for each game varies. Forming two groups consisting of at least four players each is best when playing Pictionary

On the other hand, Charades is usually for two groups with 8 to 10 people. Often, these numbers change, especially if there is a large group. The rule of thumb is to divide the number of participants equally among each group.

3. Needed Equipment

One of the apparent differences between Pictionary and Charades is the equipment used when playing the game. 

Since Pictionary involves “pictures,” as the name implies, you will need something where you can draw. It may be a dry-erase board, chalkboard, drawing board, drawing pad, or plain paper. It would be best if you also have something to draw with, like a marker, chalk, pencil, or pen. 

Slips of paper containing words to be guessed by the members are also needed, usually placed inside a jar or a bowl. 

Unlike Pictionary, Charades involve acting out of words. The members prepare slips of paper containing terms that the artist must act out before playing Charades.

A timer or a stopwatch to keep track of the time and a scorecard to record each team’s points are optional when preparing before the game.

4. Categories

The words needed to be guessed by the members when playing Pictionary and Charades are usually divided into different categories and supplied by every participating group member. The categories in Pictionary are usually words related to a person, place, animal, object, action, or event. 

For Charades, the category may vary from a book title, song title, movie, TV show, famous person, and even a well-known phrase or saying. The words should always be in the context of the given category. 

5. The Artists

Since both Pictionary and Charades are guessing games, there is always the leading artist who will do the drawing and the acting. Each player in Pictionary will take a turn in drawing the words assigned to them. For the Charades, players will take a turn in acting out the words given. 

Usually, the group with the best illustrators and actors always wins. But then, it’s not a requirement for someone to be a talented person to enjoy these games.

6. Aim of the Game

Pictionary’s goal is for the members to identify and guess what the “illustrator” conveys with what they are drawing. For Charades, however, the members need to determine the words from a specific category that the “actor” needs to act out. 

Nonetheless, each game’s common goal is to get the most number of points to consider a team winner.

7. Game Play

Playing Pictionary or Charades is very easy. In playing Pictionary, the first member assigned to draw will usually pick a word from a jar or a bowl, written on a slip of paper. The assigned illustrator will silently illustrate the terms given to them while the other members are left to guess what they are drawing. 

Same as go with Charades, but instead of drawing, the first member assigned needs to act out the particular word they draw. For example, the actor gets the word basketball player. They may act as someone dribbling the ball or shooting the ball in the air. The actor may also base their actions on the stream of answers the other team members are giving. 

After the word is guessed correctly by the members, the next member may now take the floor and draw or act out a particular word.

8. The Do’s

The players need specific rules to follow when playing either Pictionary or Charades. You can draw or act out anything related to the words that the team members need to guess. Breaking the terms into syllables when drawing or acting them out is also possible. The illustrator or the actor must do all of these silently. 

In Charades, the actor can cup one hand behind their ear or pull on their earlobe to signify that the word to be guessed sounds like or rhymes with something in Charades.

Using big or small gestures matters when acting out a word is also essential. Nodding the head means the members are on the right track while pointing at the nose with one finger and the other on the guessing member indicates that they got the correct answer already. 

The people allowed to speak during a Pictionary or Charade game are the team members left to guess the words.

9. The Don’ts

On the contrary, there are things you need to avoid whenever playing Pictionary or Charades. The illustrators and the actors should not talk in the middle of drawing or acting out a particular word. 

In Pictionary, the drawing of ears to signify that the word sounds like something is a big no-no. Using dashes to show the number of letters in a word is also not allowed. The illustrator should also not use any letter or number when drawing. 

Using any hand gestures or sign language should strictly be avoided. Those playing Charades must remember that the person acting out cannot speak or make any sound. The actor must also avoid pointing out objects or people in the room because it may give away clues to those who are guessing. 

Since these rules may vary, it is relevant to clarify the dos and don’ts before each game.

10. Pointing System

Generally, every time the team gets to guess a particular word for each game, a point will straightly go to them. Each term may range from 1 point to 3 points, depending on the difficulty. The team with the highest accumulated point is considered the winner of the game.

11. Time Limit

Both teams’ illustrators will have at least 60 seconds to draw the words assigned to them while their team members try to guess their words. If the team members got the word correctly, even if the 60 second-timer is still going, the next illustrator would come up, and the timer will go for another 60 seconds. 

The same goes with Charades; however, the best time to play the said game is 2 to 3 minutes per actor.

12. Game Variations

Throughout time, the rules in both games change, creating variations. The typical game variation for both Pictionary and Charades is when the game is played with no teams or divisions.

In a big group formed, each group member will take turns to draw or act. The point will go to the illustrator or actor whenever the other people get to guess their words. 

Others prefer playing Pictionary in a fast-paced setting, where both team’s illustrators draw the words they picked simultaneously. 

People may play Charades in a reverse manner. Instead of having a one-person act, the entire team members will perform, and there is one person to guess the word. These variations allow more team participation.

But, which game is the best?

Both Pictionary and Charades are guessing games but practically different from one another. We cannot say that one is paramount because each game has its distinct feature apart from the other. 

We must always consider the things mentioned above to maximize the fun and exciting experience when playing Pictionary or Charades. After all, what matters is the enjoyment and fulfillment you get after having a great time with the people dearest to you. 

Now, make the most out of your time, assemble your team for a Pictionary or Charades battle, and may the best team win!

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

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.