New Party Game Applies Balderdash Rules to Search Engine Autocomplete Phrases

A new board game based on search field autocomplete has successfully debuted on Kickstarter.

Google’s autocomplete feature is a terrifying window into the psyche of the average web user. The feature completes your search query as you type based on popular terms crowdsourced from Google’s users. The autocomplete results are localized; your autocomplete options in India may be different from mine in Venezuela. For example, when i type “why does my” into Google, my autocomplete results include:

  • why does my life suck
  • why does my eye twitch
  • why does my cat lick me
  • why does my stomach hurt

Your mileage may vary.

Query, a new board game from Toronto-based designer Phoebe Stephens and her sister Nikki, plays off this technological curiosity. The pair sources autocomplete options from hundreds of different search queries, weeded anything too region-specific, and printed them on cards.

Gameplay follows the Balderdash mold, with a reader announcing the query to the other players, and secretly choosing one of the “correct” search engine-sanctioned autocomplete endings by writing it down on a piece of paper. The other players submit their own plausible autocomplete responses, and then vote on whichever answer they think a search engine would actually provide. Players receive points both for guessing the correct answer, and for fooling opponents into voting for their made-up answers.

The game is beyond unoriginal, adhering strictly to the Balderdash template that has spawned a thousand imitators: What’s Yours Like, Dixit, Malarky, Fictionaire, Blag!, and The Game of Things, to name a few. It’s not even the first time that a technological quirk has inspired a party game; i have a copy of Damn You Autocorrect: The Board Game still shrink-wrapped on my shelf, a gift from two Christmases ago from a well-meaning family member who heard i liked board games.

Still, the Balderdash format clearly works, and it’s always a good time if you have the right crowd assembled. Query blew past its modest Kickstarter goal this past weekend. You can jump on that bandwagon if the autocomplete concept turns your crank, or you can walk into a game or toy store and pick up many of the above-mentioned titles immediately, instead of rolling the dice on a first-time designer and a game that hasn’t yet entered production.

Incidentally, these are the autocomplete options Google offers when i type “kickstarter projects”:

  • kickstarter projects that failed to deliver
  • kickstarter projects for sale
  • kickstarter projects that did not deliver