Amateur singing used as a pastime, most often to a backing track and with lyrics displayed.


From japanese カラオケ, which may be translated as "empty orche"[stra]. May be performed at home to a video, at themed events with a karaoke machine, or in dedicated venues (popular in Japan) with specialized equipment, spatial organization, and furniture.

Why is it here?

Karaoke is the most popular form of amateur music-making. It is related both to music and to games (albeit rather to video games). It is a form of entertainment focused on performance of music rather than listening. As for social function it is for pop what music games might become also for experimental/non-idiomatic music.

Typical in-genre Karaoke have also been an inspiration for tabletop games and you can easily combine the performance of music with any of the many games of musical trivia (memory).

Song Performance (game/mechanic)

The most direct connection between pop music and games is to make Karaoke competitive. This is commonplace with contests or due to a specific spirit within a friend group or a venue. This plain, reproductive take on Karaoke game lies outside of our library scope because it doesn't result in new music, but we can ensure some novelty by making it impossible to succeed (despite players doing their best). The music heard is then in reference to the original song, but will not be the same. Methods of achieving this include physical constraints or providing an unfamiliar sound source (present also in TV shows).

This kind of activity needs some Judges (as a constant role or interchangeable) who may give points for the success of recreating the song despite the obstacles, or otherwise assess performers for their inventiveness, style, or skill.

When facilitating this kind of game, it's important to make sure that success is not required nor expected, and participants have full acceptance of imperfections of all performances. With some groups it may be impossible, and there are no easy shortcuts to achieve it.

Song Recognition (game/mechanic)

Guessing the song is another potential focus of a Karaoke game. With faithful performance it's just the knowledge that is tested, but if the performance is obfuscated, the effort is more interesting and involves musical intelligence.

Recognition is easy to connect with performance, but there are app-assisted games which use this mechanic with recorded music (e.g. from streaming service). This activity is frequently called after a TV show Name That Tune which premiered in 1952 (later the game based on the show included an LP for guessing). Another name in use for song recognition challenge is "needledrop test".

Song Association (game/mechanic)

Among more than 100 titles to check out on Board Game Geek in the "singing" category the most popular mechanic is finding a song with a given word — this can be easily used for performance also without a physical game around it. Word can be random or one of the players may give it. "Elle Music Game" is a show based on this premise that has many national editions with celebrities.

The game is simple but has a high skill ceiling. Here is a virtuosic example with simple words and a timer by Jacob Collier who adds keyboard and body percussion to singing.

Associations could be done with not only a word, but with many different features of music, specific sound, setting, theme, etc. This is similar to some "Broadway musical" conventions when a character bursts into a song that in some way fits the staged situation, there are some improvisational theatre games and RPGs exploring this take on a mechanic.


Antakshari is a musical "word-chain" parlor game, where each player (possibly a team) sings the first verse of a commonly known song starting with the letter or syllable that ended the verse delivered by the previous opponent.

The game is popular in India, played often with Bollywood songs, made its way to a few movie scenes, and was a basis for a TV show and online activities. Naturally, the faster you come up with your part, the more appreciated might be your skill. You may sing the whole song, or just the first verse, the quicker, more collage-like approach would fit the scope of our wiki the most.

External games

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