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High-tech Pictionary is more challenging than using a pen

But it's still a lot of fun.
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Pictionary seems like one of those perfect games that doesn't really need an upgrade. You draw on a piece of paper, and people guess what you're trying to show them. Sure, you can put the game on a phone or tablet, but the basic concept remains the same no matter where you play. However, this weekend at Toy Fair Mattel is unveiling Pictionary Air, which takes away the paper — or any other drawing surface, really — and asks to you draw in the empty space in front of you.

Gallery: Pictionary Air | 8 Photos

I tried it out at the show, and it turns out a lot of the game is still the Pictionary we all know and love: You take a paper card with a list of things on it, and once the timer is started you draw those items, one at a time, moving on to the next as the other players successfully guess each one. But the timer has been moved to the app and the drawings will only appear on its screen. The game can be broadcasted to a nearby TV via Chromecast or Airplay, so the entire room can join in on the fun from the couch, rather than everyone crowding around a small tablet or phone display. One person will still need to hold the device to manage the timer and point the camera at the current artist.

Instead of a pencil, the artist has a wand they wave in the air, sketching out the card prompts as best they can without the ability to see what they're drawing. It's tough, but it turns out I'm pretty good at it — I managed to successfully sketch out a camel, a baseball and eyelashes, though I was a bit less successful with more complex ideas like "Beauty and the Beast." It's sort of weird to see the finished drawings at the end though: turns out I didn't really attach a pair of wings too well on my fairy, and her wand looked more like a sparkler. You're gonna need good spatial recognition for this, and people who are usually excellent at drawing may find it a real challenge.

It was a lot of fun to play, and will probably be a crowd pleaser at my next family gathering. Fortunately, it won't be too long a wait — the $20 Pictionary Air set, which includes the wand and cards, will hit Target stores June 1 and other retailers a month later.

Check out the rest of our coverage from Toy Fair 2019 here.

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