Play Nicely With Others: Games to Play With Your Camera


A recent major university double-blind study has concluded that games are fun.

In addition, 63 percent of licensed phlebotomists agree that fun is nice.

These ground-shaking, revolutionary results have caused us to revise our staunchly anti-fun philosophy.

In an effort to explore these new (and somewhat suspicious) avenues of “fun” and “games” we respectfully present our findings on the subject: five games you can play with your camera and photos.

We are informed by reliable sources that they qualify as “fun.”

Photography Games

p.s. Been messing around with perspective lately? Post your photos in the “Tunnel Vision” thread on the Photojojo forum.

These particular games use Flickr as a homebase since lots of users means more players for the game. There’s no reason you couldn’t do your own version with your friends or family or by using any other photo site. Make up your own rules if you want. Heck, it’s just a game right?


fiveWhat Is It? It’s kind of like the Word of the Day on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, but instead of screaming when you hear the word, you run out and take a picture that illustrates it. (Example at right: “five”)

What are the Rules? Every Monday, the Dungeon Master posts three words for you to choose from. You can choose as many of the words as you want. You have seven days to take and upload a photo that represents your chosen word(s).

How Do I Play? Go to or follow Photogamer on Twitter to get the updates. Once you’ve taken your fabulous clever photo, upload it to the Photogamer group on Flickr.

Why Would I Bother? Because it’s fun, silly.

But it’s also a really good way to kickstart your creativity if you’ve been in a rut. And it’s good practice if you’re a teacher or a designer or anybody who has to explain things in a visual way. Plus you get to see how different people in the group illustrate the same idea.

Mission 24

rollWhat Is It? Much like Photogamer, Mission 24 sends you on a mission to illustrate a given word (example at right: “roll”). The intervals between missions are random, to keep you on your toes, and you have 24 hours to complete your assignment.

What are the Rules? The mission begins when Mr. X gives you a word and the countdown starts. Interpret the word as a photo and upload your two best attempts within 24 hours.

Only photos taken after the mission starts are allowed- no recycling from your archives. No naughty pictures, either, although there’s a more, um, “adult” sister group called M24:Diesel.

How Do I Play? Join the Mission 24 group on Flickr and give them your email address so you can get the updates. They promise they won’t spam you.

Why Would I Bother? Creative interpretations are encouraged, so it’s a good way to practice the ol’ non-linear thinking. Plus the short deadlines are an incentive to carry a camera everywhere and start incorporating photography into your daily routine.

Guess Where?

guess whereWhat Is It? Somebody posts a photo of something in their town, and other locals try to guess where it was taken. There are groups all over the world, from Hong Kong to the Isle of Wight.

What are the Rules? These vary from group to group. The basics are: it should be hard to guess, but not impossible. Don’t map the photo until people guess where it is.

How Do I Play? Find your town by searching groups on Flickr for “guess where” plus the name of your town. Upload photos to your group and wait for guesses! Or look through the photos in the pool and guess where they are.

If your city doesn’t have a Flickr group, play with your friends and family. Betcha Grandpa whups all of you at this game.

Why Would I Bother? If you’re new to a city, it’s a good way to learn your way around and find unusual things to photograph. If you’ve lived there forever, you get to win the game a lot!

Guess What?

guess whatWhat Is It? Somebody posts a photo of a mystery object and everybody guesses what that object could be.

What are the Rules? The picture must be hard to identify. Don’t let the title give anything away. Cropping is allowed, but high image quality is also important.

How Do I Play? If you have a tricky photo, upload it to the Guess What This Is? or Guess What I Shot group. If you don’t have any photos you want to upload, comment on other people’s photos by trying to guess what they are.

Why Would I Bother? Because it makes you feel like a smarty-pants when you’re the only person who guessed that the mystery object was a cuticle trimmer.

Photo Association

BostonsWhat Is It? Players respond to the last photo posted by posting one that it reminds them of. For example, maybe a picture of the St. Louis Arch reminds you of the golden arches at McDonald’s.

What are the Rules? Post a visual (or at least quasi-logical) response to the last photo in the pool. Only one photo at a time allowed, and you have to wait for at least one response before posting another photo.

How Do I Play? Stop by the Free Association pool and have a look around. If you can come up with a photo that relates to the last one posted, add it to the group.

Why Would I Bother? Oh my gosh, stop asking that question! Because you’re bored at work. Besides, your psychiatrist says it’s good for you.


  • Fastr: Guess the tags of random Flickr pictures. We like the mini version for long boring conference calls.
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  • What in the World?: This one’s just for kids! Unscramble the jumble clue to help you guess what the mystery object is.
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  • Picture in Picture Pass: It’s a picture of a picture of a picture of a…