A Fake Artist Goes to New York

A Vocabulary Game Like No Other.

All the fun of a social deduction game, plus everyone gets to do some drawing.


  • vocabulary review
  • speculation
  • reported speech


  • Level (CEFR B1-C2)
  • ages 15 yrs. and up

When I first heard about A Fake Artist Goes to New York, I thought that it was a terrible idea.  I don’t think I’ve ever so happily been wrong in my life.  It’s a lot of fun and a really good way of reviewing vocabulary from previous classes.  When I wanted to actually get the game though, I couldn’t find it anywhere, or if they did have it, the sellers were charging an arm and a leg for postage.  So, not to be deterred, I decided to make my own version.  If I see it in a shop, I will definitely buy it though, because it’s the perfect handy little party game to have with you AT ALL TIMES.


For a much poorer-quality, non-retail, DIY version, you will need:

  • a set of coloured pens/pencils
  • a dry-wipe pen
  • several sheets of blank paper
  • a laminated sheet of the coloured player cards handout, cut up into 12 separate cards (see below)
  1. Put the players into groups.  You can have a large group of 12 players, although for the classroom, smaller groups of 6 work better.  You will need 1 coloured player card fewer than there are people in the group (i.e. 6 players = 5 cards)
  2. During the game players will take on one of three roles: Question Master, Artist or Fake Artist.  The players goals and tasks differ depending on their role.
  3.  One player becomes the question Question Master for the first round.  They choose a category (such as “food” or another vocabulary area which has recently been studied ) and choose one word (i.e. “cake”).  They then write “X” on one player card and then write the chosen word one each of the other cards.  It’s important that the other players do not know which colour has the “X” on, but the Question Master should remember this colour.
  4. The cards are then dealt face down to the players who look at the cards makings sure than none of the other players can see it.  They take the pen/pencil which corresponds to the colour of their card.
  5. Starting with the player to the left of the Question Master and moving clockwise, the players must work together to draw the word which is written on the card.  However, each of the other players (Artist and Fake Artist alike) can only draw 1 continuous line, although this can be as long or as short as they wish.  The artists should not talk while they are doing this, and should watch the contributions that the other players make to the ‘artwork’.
  6. After each artist has made 2 contributions to the artwork, the Question Master says “1, 2, 3!” and on three all the artists (fake or otherwise) point at the artist that they think is the Fake Artist.
  7. The Fake Artist then identifies her or himself.  If fewer than 50% of the Artists identify the Fake Artist, then the Fake Artist and Question Master win.  If the Fake Artist is correctly identified, then she or he can still win if they can correctly identify the word chosen by the Question Master.


  • Most word games like this are designed to be used mainly with concrete nouns.  There’s no reason why other parts of speech like verbs and adjectives wouldn’t work, it’s just that they’ll be a lot harder to communicate.  The main tweak that you’ll need to make for the classroom is giving the players extra turns (3, or maybe even 4 perhaps).  Basically, if you can’t draw it, then your students are probably going to struggle too.
  • To avoid the problem of the players not knowing the word that’s being used it’s always good to play this game (or any other for that matter) after having done a vocabulary review, and to make sure that the words are being chosen from a fixed pool of words.


I was pretty sceptical about how this would work, but it went down a storm.  Considering all you need to do to play this game is grab some coloured pens/pencils and laminate a sheet of paper, it’s got some good replayability and it makes a welcome change from some other vocabulary games.  Recommended.


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