THE booming popularity of a two-player game called Draw Something is causing a slump in workplace productivity.

Not dissimilar to the board game Pictionary, the free app requires you to express words such as "xerox" or "voodoo" in picture form, with your stubby index finger as the paintbrush and your phone as the canvas.

Thus far, the game has racked up 30 million downloads and more than US$100,000 in revenue from players buying "bombs", which allow them to cheat by skipping undrawable words such as "tempest" in favour of easier options such as, er, "door".

At the time of going to press, it was also set to be snapped up by social-network giant Zynga (the company behind time-shredding titles such as FarmVille and Words with Friends) for $200m.

Most drawings are gloriously inept. Notions of scale, perspective and hue are jettisoned in favour of blunt visual clues; my depiction of "snowball" was faintly pornographic, "widow" a bit insensitive, and "Germany" something I'm not at all proud of. (Obviously no one polices the games, so if you were stuck on "soldier" you could always just write "SOLDIER" on the screen in desperation.)

Then, before each turn, the app plays back in real time your opponent's last guessing attempt as your miserable effort - complete with errors and false starts - reveals itself. It's joyous. The only downside (although cunning from a games design perspective) is that the games never seem to end. You just keep drawing, badly, for eternity; a dystopian future in app form.



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