Picture telephone is a variation of the classic game telephone usually played with 5-10 players. All of the players are given a pen or pencil and a stack of post its stapled together with 1 page fore each player. Players sit in a circle and in secret everyone writes down a word or phrase on the first sheet of the stack. After 30 seconds, everyone passes their book to the right. At which point players must try and draw the word or phrase from the first page. Then after 30 seconds, they must pass the book to the right. The third player then must try and guess what the phrase that describes the drawing without looking at the original phrase, and writes it on the third page. Play continues until each book has made it all around the circle, with each player alternating drawing what is described or describing what was drawn on the previous page without looking at any other pages. By the time each book has made it all the way around the message has usually been greatly distorted, and all the books are shared.
This game was introduced to my informant at a high school get together. The game is somewhat complicated to explain, but easy to play, making it a game that is good to play repeatedly with friends, and strengthening bonds within the group. It also serves to exclude people who are not normally part of the group as they have to have the rules explained to them, often a couple of times before they understand how to play. This game is similar to telephone as one of the best aspects of game is comparing the resulting message with the original to see how the chain of communication distorted it.
In order to do Black Magic, you are going to need two performers. Performer #1 is the asker while performer #2 is the guesser. Performer #1 tells the audience the he/she has a telepathic connection with #2 and tells #2 to leave the room. #1 then tells an audience member to pick any object in the room. #1 will then say that he/she be able to transmit what the object is to #2. After the audience member picks (we will say a chair for this example), #2 returns to the room. #1 will then start asking questions such as, “Is it this shirt? Is it her hair?” #2 will then respond with “no” until finally #1 will ask “Is it the chair?” and #2 will say, “Yes.” At this point the audience member will be shocked that #2 was able to figure out the object. The trick here occurs when #1 is asking the questions about what the object is; the object that is named right before the chosen object is always predominantly black in color. For example, #1 will ask, “Is it her shirt?” and points at somebody’s black shirt. The color black is the cue that the object in the next question is the chosen object. If people ask for hints as to how the trick work, just tell them to think about the name of the game.
My informant told me about this game during a dinner party. On this occasion, my informant wanted to play this game but unfortunately for her, nobody else in the group knew about it. She decided to tell me about it so that I could be performer number two. We both performed the game a couple times with the other people in the dinner party, and everyone was constantly throwing guesses for how I was able to correctly ascertaining the chosen object.
I asked my informant where she got this fun party game from and she said she had learned about it from her cousin at a family reunion party. Her cousin had wanted to convince her younger relatives that she was psychic and she used this to do so. Hearing this, I speculate that this game is probably derived from fake psychics who wanted to prove their ability. By practicing this activity, the “psychic” would then be able to convince customers that there “powers” are real.