Originally released back in 2015 Camera Roll’s second edition was released this year by Endless Games. I have to admit that I had never heard about the game when it was first released. That was probably partially because I wouldn’t really consider myself part of the target audience for the game. Camera Roll is basically a game where you need to search through the photos that you have taken with your phone in order to find ones that fit certain words or phrases. As I don’t generally take many photos with my phone it initially didn’t seem like it was the game for me. The idea behind the game intrigued me though as it kind of reminded me of games like Apples to Apples which I am a big fan of. Thanks to receiving a free copy of the game to review from Endless Games I was able to check it out. Camera Roll is not going to be for everyone as it is more of an experience than a game, but people who take a lot of photos with their phones will likely love the game.
We would like to thank Endless Games for the review copy of Camera Roll used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
How to Play Camera Roll
- Place the game cards face down on the table where everyone can reach them.
- Place the score card, marker, and sand timer within reach of all of the players.
- The players choose how many rounds they would like to play. The game recommends three rounds.
- Choose who will be the first “Boss” in each round.
Playing the Game
Camera Roll is played over a number of rounds. In each round all of the players will get to play as the Boss for one turn. The role will rotate clockwise each turn. Each turn begins with the Boss taking the top card from the pile and reading it out loud. After they are done reading the card they will flip over the sand timer.
Once the timer is flipped over all of the players besides the Boss will look through their phone for a picture (this does not include searching the internet) that matches the word/phrase printed on the card. When a player has found a picture they will announce that they found a picture and will then set down their phone. After the timer runs out all of the players that have found a picture will reveal it to the other players and tell why it relates to the card that was drawn. If a player doesn’t think a photo should count they can challenge it and the Boss decides whether it will count.
Players will then score points for their photos as follows:
- Each player that finds a valid picture in time will receive one point.
- The first player to find a valid picture will receive an additional point.
- The Boss analyzes the pictures and decides which one they think best fits the card. This player will score a bonus point. The Boss can use any criteria that they want to decide which photo fits best.
The Boss will record the points scored by each player on the score card. If none of the players find an appropriate picture in time no one will score any points. The role of Boss will move onto the next player.
When a “Search Up” card is revealed the gameplay slightly changes. For these cards the players can use the social media platform of their choice to find a photo or video that meets the criteria on the card. Points are awarded the same as a normal round.
End of Game
When the agreed upon number of rounds has been played the players will tally the scores. The player who has scored the most points during the game wins. If there is a tie the next card is flipped over. The first player to find a photo that fits the card will win the game.
My Thoughts on Camera Roll
Before delving into my review of Camera Roll I would like to begin by saying that my gaming group and I are not the typical target audience for a game like Camera Roll. None of us are the type of people that take a lot of photos with our phones. Therefore we had to play the game by slightly altering the rules using physical photographs instead of photos on our phones. While this worked fine I probably wouldn’t recommend it as the game is designed more for people that have access to a bunch of photos stored on their phone.
With that out of the way I would say that Camera Roll kind of feels like a twist on a game like Apples to Apples. In the game players will take turns drawing cards that feature either a word or phrase. Each player other than the Boss/Judge then has 30 seconds to search through their phone for a picture that matches the card. Players are rewarded for finding a picture in time with the first player to find one receiving an additional point. Then the Boss gets to look through all of the submitted pictures to award an additional point to the player they think submitted the best picture for the word/phrase. After an agreed upon number of rounds the player who scores the most points wins the game.
That short description illustrates one of Camera Roll’s greatest strengths. The game is straightforward to the point where basically anyone can play it (as long as they take a lot of photos with their phone). I appreciate the game’s simplicity as I am a strong proponent of a game never being more complicated then it needs to be. Camera Roll’s rules can be explained to new players within just a couple of minutes. This simplicity makes the game really accessible as it won’t intimidate people that generally don’t play a lot of board games. The game has a recommended age of 12+, but I think that is mostly because most younger children won’t have access to a cellphone with a bunch of photos stored on it. From the cards that I looked at I didn’t see any objectionable content, but younger children might also not understand what all of the cards are asking for as well.
Camera Roll’s simplicity also leads to a game that plays quite quickly. The game can be as short or as you want as players can play as many rounds as they want. Unless you play with a bunch of people each round shouldn’t take too much time. As the timer is only 30 seconds long each turn should only take a couple minutes at max. I personally think the timer should have been a little longer as it is hard to find a matching photo within 30 seconds. With how short each turn is you should be able to play through the recommended three rounds within around 20 minutes. You could easily adjust the length though by playing more or less rounds. Outside of the timer being too short I liked the game’s length as it fits well as a filler game that you can easily adjust the length of.
So what about the actual gameplay? This is where your opinion of Camera Roll is going to really depend on what type of person you are. In order to enjoy the game you need to be the type of person that is a big fan of taking a lot of photos of your everyday life. This likely means that the game is probably going to skew towards younger demographics, but I can see older people enjoying the game as well if they like taking a lot of photos. This is key to your enjoyment as the game itself doesn’t work that well if you don’t have a lot of photos to access. If you aren’t the type of person to be big into social media platforms or taking photos of your everyday life, you probably aren’t going to get much out of Camera Roll.
Personally I would say that I am in the latter camp as unfortunately I am not the type of person to take a lot of pictures of my everyday life. Camera Roll is not really the type of game that is designed for someone like me. While it wasn’t designed for people like me I don’t think Camera Roll is a bad game. I had some fun with the game even though we had to improvise at times. It was fun racing through photos trying to find one that fit a category within a short amount of time. In a lot of ways Camera Roll kind of reminded me of games like Apples to Apples.
This brings me to what I would consider Camera Roll’s greatest strength. In a lot of ways I would say that Camera Roll is more of an experience than a game. Some people might find this to be a criticism, but I don’t really see it as one. The ultimate winner of the game doesn’t really matter all that much in my opinion. The best part of the game is mostly looking through old photos, remembering past experiences, and maybe having some laughs with the other players. Depending on how old and memorable the photos you are using are, the game does a good job with nostalgia as you look back at good memories from your life. People who like to take and share photos will probably love this aspect of the game especially as the game encourages players to tell a story about their photos. If this sounds like something that your group of friends/family like to do I think you will really enjoy Camera Roll.
With the game being more of an experience than a game though, the gameplay feels a little weak in areas. The gameplay is kind of basic as it mostly consists of hearing a word/phrase and then frantically searching through your phone looking for a picture that fits. Thus your success in the game mostly comes down to two factors. First the number and variety of photos on your phone is going to play a big role in how well you do in the game. If you are an avid photo taker you likely are going to have a much easier time than someone who doesn’t have access to a bunch of photos. Second how fast you can scroll through your photos is going to play a factor as 30 seconds isn’t much time to look through a lot of photos. These two factors are going to play a big role in whether you find a picture in time and whether you get a good picture that will get you the point for best picture.
As for the scoring I would say that there are things that I liked and other things that I didn’t like. On the positive side I liked players receiving points for finding a photo and for submitting the best photo. This rewards each player that is able to find a photo in time while also additionally rewarding the player that comes up with the best photo. I wasn’t a big fan of giving a point to the first player to find a photo though. I didn’t really think this added much to the game and occasionally players would submit at the same time making it hard to determine who submitted first. As I mentioned earlier I didn’t think the scoring mattered all that much as players can’t take the end result all that seriously. In a lot of ways the end result feels kind of random where the player that is luckiest enough to have photos that fit is going to win. If you are an ultra competitive player you likely aren’t going to like Camera Roll as the ultimate winner doesn’t really matter.
Finally before wrapping up I would say that Camera Roll’s components are basically what you would expect. The game comes with cards, a sand timer, a dry-erase marker and score board. I generally thought the component quality was fine. There are games with better components, but for the game’s price you couldn’t ask for much more. As for the quantity of cards I think the game does a good job. The game comes with 288 cards which should last quite a while before you hit repeats. Even when you hit repeats they shouldn’t be too much of an issue as you likely will have different photos on your phone when the card shows up again. The outer box is a little larger than it needed to be as it didn’t need to be quite so deep. The size is not too bad though as there isn’t a ton of empty space inside which should please people that don’t have a lot of free space.
Should You Buy Camera Roll?
Camera Roll is basically a game that some people will likely really enjoy and other people won’t. In the game players basically race to find photos on their phone that match a word/phrase receiving points for finding a photo, being the first to find one, and finding the best photo. I would say that Camera Roll feels like more of an experience than a game. The ultimate winner doesn’t really matter as the gameplay isn’t particularly deep and the scoring system could have been better. Yet the game succeeds as an experience as you look through old photos, reliving old memories and sharing them with the other players. On top of that the game is really easy to play and plays quickly.
As for the game’s final rating I ended up giving it a rating based on feelings towards the game as someone who rarely takes pictures with their phone. For those who really like taking pictures with their phones though will probably like the game considerably more than I did. If that describes you I could see adding at least a full additional star to the final rating.
My recommendation for Camera Roll mostly depends on what type of person you and your intended group are. Do you not rarely if ever take pictures with your phone? In that case I don’t really see Camera Roll being for you. Those that love taking photos with their phone though and sharing them with friends and family will probably love the game. If that describes you I would recommend picking up Camera Roll.