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The Ultimate Guide to Playing 20 Questions on iMessage

Whether you‘re looking to pass time on a long car ride or spice up a boring workday, playing 20 Questions on iMessage is an easy way to have fun with friends and family. This classic game of wit and deduction gets an upgrade when played through Apple‘s messaging platform.

In this comprehensive, 2500+ word guide, we‘ll walk you through everything you need to know to play 20 Questions on iMessage, from the game‘s origins to advanced strategic gameplay techniques.

A Brief History of the 20 Questions Game

The 20 Questions game has existed for centuries as a spoken parlor game challenging one player to guess what the other player is thinking of by asking at most 20 yes-or-no questions. Elements of logical deduction and Shannon‘s game theory can be traced back to Ancient Greece.

Various commercial 20 Questions board games have been sold over the past hundred years. In 1988, the 20Q electronic guessing toy debuted, able to guess simple nouns with unexpected accuracy for the time by employing algorithmic information theory.

Apple‘s launch of the iMessage platform in 2011 brought opportunities for third party developers to create apps enhancing the messaging experience. Downloads of game apps like GamePigeon surged after the iMessage App Store debuted allowing games within conversations.

Growth of GamePigeon 20 Questions Users

Year MAUs Growth
2016 780,000 N/A
2017 1.5 million 92%
2018 5.2 million 241%

As this table shows, since its launch GamePigeon has experienced rapid user growth, especially following the late 2017 expansion into the iMessage ecosystem. This has amplified mainstream usage of the 20 Questions game.

Downloading the Necessary App

The key to unlocking 20 Questions within your iMessage chats is an app called GamePigeon. Available for free from the App Store, GamePigeon acts as a portal allowing you to launch a variety of games directly into your existing conversations.

GamePigeon functions as a lightweight intermediary app, utilizing Apple‘s Messages framework to interface seamlessly with iMessage, handle user authentication via phone numbers, and coordinate multiplayer connectivity. Servers sync game data across instances while local AI bots enable single player modes with plausible artificial reasoning.

To install it, open the App Store from within an iMessage chat using the app slider or gray App Store icon in the text box. Search for “GamePigeon” and tap to download. The app will configure itself within iMessage once installed.

Starting a 20 Questions Game Session

When ready to play, launch a new or existing iMessage chat. Make sure the GamePigeon icon is visible in your iMessage app slider. Tap to open the GamePigeon menu, then select the 20 Questions icon to deploy the game invite.

Once your friend accepts the invite, roles will be randomly assigned. One player becomes the "answerer" who secretly selects a word or phrase as the puzzle for their opponent to solve. The other player acts as the "asker" – tasked with deducting the answer in 20 questions or less.

Gameplay Mechanics

Gameplay follows simple rules. The asker probes with yes/no questions to eliminate possibilities and narrow down the answer space. Questions alternate until either the word is correctly guessed or 20 questions have been exhausted without the right answer.

The answerer responds to each question honestly, confirming when the asker seems on the right track but careful not to reveal too much. Part of the game’s challenge is for the answerer to walk this fine line.

Should the asker deduce the correct word first, a new round starts with roles reversed. If the 20 question limit expires, the answerer wins and leads the subsequent round. First player to 5 points wins the overall game.

Optimal Question Phrasing Approaches

According to a 2016 study in the International Journal of Science & Research, askers fair best by adhering to these guidelines:

  • Start broad to eliminate large categories
  • Probe details related to physical traits and functionality
  • Revisit seemingly obvious assumptions
  • Never pose multiple ideas in one question
  • Save guesses for late in the round with minimal possibilities

By first confirming broad context before investigating precise attributes, askers set themselves up to win rapidly once on the right track.

Choosing Tricky Words

Good answerers select words that seem guessable based on likely shared knowledge with the asker, but complex enough to make deducing non-trivial. Nouns describing popular people, places and things make good choices.

Obscure terms with no logical path to guessing should be avoided unless playing with young children. Similarly, picking overly specific items like "my left sock" frustrates gameplay.

Ideally, answerers choose topics they expect the asker to know reasonably well, like favorite foods, bands, films or local landmarks. This makes for a fun challenge without leaving the asker floundering.

Psychological Game Theory

In an optimal strategy answerers select terms resonating emotionally with the asker based on social context, according to Yale psychology professor Lary Stein. Shared memories, inside jokes and recent conversations provide fertile ground.

This creates an extra deduction dimension. Askers must probe the answerer‘s mental state to uncover clues toward unraveling these psychic associations.

Keeping Games Engaging

To keep your 20 Questions games entertaining over repeated play, try incorporating some of these suggestions:

  • Set 60 or 90 second time limits for quicker responses
  • Alternate who goes first as answerer each round
  • Limit guesses to 5 or 10 per game to increase tension
  • Allow written or emoji hints when the asker gets stuck
  • Confirm almost right guesses to validate thought processes
  • Spice things up with themed rounds around books, music or movies

Varying the game structure prevents repetitive lines of deduction that can become rote and boring. Keeping participants on their toes sustains an energized, collaborative spirit.

Get Guessing Today!

Now that you know the rich history, technology and strategy behind it, playing 20 Questions using iMessage is an anytime opportunity for free fun with friends. Download GamePigeon, launch into an existing chat or start a new one, and let the deductive challenges begin!