Emoji charades is the new game you'll be playing on Whatsapp this Christmas

Lidya Nada / Unsplash

Riddle me this: if you’re not playing emoji charades at every spare second, are you even living through December 2018?

The jig is this, and it’s simple: assume a gurn like your favourite Unicode character then send a snap to your nearest, dearest, or entire mates WhatsApp group, and see if they can guess it.

Bonus points for difficulty: going the full Spiderman for the upside down smiley face; lathering yourself in green face paint for the nauseated face; balancing a Humongous Fungus on your crown to ape the mushroom cloud puffing from the “mindblown” option.

YouTube is well stocked with emoji impression videos — simple but seemingly stimulating — and it’s been keeping the

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If you want something a little more formalised, Microsoft has just launched Emoji8, a free Windows app that uses machine learning to guess the facial expression you’re making when imitating an emoji. You’ll need a PC to use it, as it’s only available from the Microsoft Store.

Once downloaded, the app conjures a random emoji for you to imitate, then uses the camera, algorithms and sensors to process the video from your computer’s webcam, giving you a mark out of 100 for proximity. It then encourages you to create a gif with some of your “craziest facial expressions” to share on Twitter.

Go nuts. The point here, is to show off Microsoft’s machine learning power in an accessible way.

Of course, it begs questions about privacy, and the degree to which we want our computers to be able to fully translate and encode our faces. Microsoft needs your consent, of course, but gamifying the technology is part of a general trend.

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“Putting real-time facial recognition technology in the hands of everyone is not just creepy, it’s a step towards the complete erosion of anonymity in public space”, Privacy International policy officer Frederike Kaltheuner told the Standard on Tuesday when discussing the Blippar app, which will soon be able to scan people’s faces with their smartphone cameras to reveal their personal information.

Safer options include Emoji Charades, an iOS app that beams flashcards from your iPhone — you need to guess the film, TV show or expression.

This also exists in board game form, namely as Emojinary, which is — you guessed it — like Pictionary, but for emojis.

Christmas Day, sorted.

More about: | Emoji | Games | Whatsapp