Jam Doodle

Release Date: 
Tuesday, January 15, 2002
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by Jonathan Leistiko


Describe a drawing composed of basic figures accurately enough that your partner can draw it.

You Need

Paper and pencil for each player. A small sketch pad works better than 8.5×11, but any paper will do


There are two roles in Jam Doodle: creator/describer and drawer. During the game, you will take turns swapping roles. When you’re the describer, you’ll be describing your doodle to your partner, so take some time to make a few doodles before the game starts.

Creating doodles that aren’t too easy but are also not too hard can be tricky at first. We’ve found that good doodles use simple geometric shapes that relate to each other in ratios that can be described in terms of the shapes.

Here are a few examples of the doodles we’ve played with:

Once you and your partner have enough doodles, choose someone to take the first turn as describer. Before play begins, sit back to back so you cannot see each other.


When you’re the describer, choose a doodle and begin describing it to your partner. You can use any words you want to, but you may not use pantomime, and you may not look at your partner’s drawing. You can stop describing any time you want to. You may also ask your partner if he or she is finished drawing. Your partner may only answer yes or no. and may not answer any other questions.

When you’re the drawer, try to draw your partner’s doodle as accurately as possible from the description. The only time you’re allowed to communicate is if your partner asks you if you’re finished drawing. You may only answer yes or no. And asking questions is cheating.


When both of you agree that you’re done, turn around and compare the doodle to the copy that was just drawn.

If the copy is an accurate duplication of the original, then you’ve accomplished your goal. It’s okay if the copy is drawn to a different scale, as long as the ratios between the objects are accurate.

If the copy differs from the original, then take some time to discuss where it differs, why it differs, and what information could have made it come out differently.

Once you’re done, swap roles and start again.


The drawer is allowed to ask the describer “yes or no” questions while drawing the sketch. You could permit an unlimited number of questions, or you could limit the number of questions. You could also permit questions that are not “yes / no” questions.

Time, Time, Time
Instead of having an unlimited amount of time to describe your doodle, you get only 5 minutes.

Reach Out and Sketch Someone…
Play Jam Doodle over the phone with a friend. To compare the original with the copy, you could scan them in and post them to the net, use email, or even snail-mail them to each other.

Whisper Down the Lane (Three or more)
One player draws a sketch, another player describes it, and the remaining players draw it.

Alternately, one player draws and describes to the next, who draws and describes what they drew to the next player, who… In the end, compare the renditions from the original to the last.

The Agora (Three or more)
One player describes a sketch and all other players try to draw it.

Team Trials (For two evenly matched teams of two or more)
Form two teams. We’ll assume that your team goes first.

Make a doodle and pass it to a player on the opposing team. That player may choose to describe the doodle to his or her team or pass it back to you.

If the other team keeps the doodle, they get 3 minutes to describe and draw it. If they pass it back to you, then you get 3 minutes to describe it to your team.

If the drawing team team draws the doodle correctly, then that team gets a point. If that team fails to draw the doodle, then the other team gets a point.
Teams take turns initiating each round, and players take turns being the creator/describer and drawers.

The game ends when the total number of points scored equals twice the number of players. The team with the most points wins.

Origin And Credits

So Jeremy, Sharon, and I went to GAMA’s trade show last March (March ‘01). One afternoon while recovering and resting in our hotel room, I picked up a hotel notepad and doodled a few geometric designs. Just for fun, I roped Jeremy or Sharon (I can’t remember whom) into letting me describe it for him or her to draw. That’s pretty much how Jam Doodle came to be.

Thanks to Jeremy and Sharon for playtesting. I think I coerced Ben into playing it once as well.