Data Visualization Pictionary

The Chicago Data Visualization Group teamed up with the American Evaluation Association’s Data Visualization special interest group for a joint meetup. It was a tremendous pleasure and very fun to team-up with Stephanie Evergreen and Kate Livingston to work on the meetup. In particular, we were able to derive a Data Visualization Pictionary game.

Below are the rules and some example outcomes


  • Split group into teams– ideally teams of 3-6 people so all have a chance to draw.
  • Each team has 2 mins to come up with data viz related team name.


  1. It’s more fun if everyone gets a chance (or is forced) to draw; each team needs to choose what order they will draw in (assign each person a number);
  2. When it’s your turn to draw, come up to the drawing board and the game masters will give you your card;
  3. Cards are in the following categories: people, objects, “visualize this”, and difficult;
    1. People – data visualization experts and practitioners
    2. Objects – types of graphs
    3. “Visualize this” category requires you to create a visualization based on the phrase. Drawers may use one label on the graph to provide a hint.
    4. Difficult – a miscellaneous category of difficult topics, graphs
  4. Game masters will announce the category out loud to everyone, but only the drawer will get to see the card;
  5. The drawer will have 15 seconds to look at and take in their clue;
  6. The drawer can choose to pass, in which case the game masters will give them a different card; if a drawer does pass, their team loses a point; it’s best to try to draw what’s on your card, even if you don’t know what it is or what it means; you never know, your team may guess it;
  7. The person drawing will have 60 seconds to draw what’s on the card; only their own team mates are allowed to guess during that time; teammates can just should out anything that comes to mind; the game masters will decide if they get it or if it’s close enough within the allotted 60 seconds to award the team a point.;
  8. The person drawing may not use gestures, words, hand signals, head nods, or any other signs to indicate if their team is on the right track or not;  
  9. The person drawing may not include letters or numbers in their drawing;
  10. At the end of 60 seconds, if the team has not correctly guessed the card other teams will have a chance to guess; game masters will ask teams in order of which team is next until either one of the teams guesses correctly or until each team has had a guess and all were wrong; if a team guesses correctly, they get a point;
  11. The next team, determined by the game master’s order, has a drawer come up and the process starts again;
  12. Game play continues until one team has 5 points

The team name that game masters like the best is the team that draws first; the other teams are in a random order decided by the game masters.

First team has drawer come up and game begins.

Game masters keep score, remind teams of order, and decide on ‘close’ guesses and points awarded.

Game play continues until a team gets 5 points.


People Graph Types Visualize This Difficult
Edward Tufte Bar Chart Time series of Bobby Jindal’s poll numbers Slope Graph
Stephanie Evergreen Dot plot Correlation of temperature and happiness Voronoi map
Data Viz Pictionary Challenge: The quality of Chicago’s pizza versus New York

The different categories have their own challenge: the ability to characterize notable data visualization authors or just simply remember how to draw particular graphs. But, perhaps most fun, is to visualize a phrase: above, the relative quality of Chicago deep dish pizza to New York’s style. Below, an visualization of Bobby Jindal’s poll numbers.

Visualize Bobby Jindal’s poll numbers