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Push the Button makes hidden role games much more embarrassing

Hidden role mechanics plus Jackbox’s trademark weaponized shame

Clayton Ashley , senior video editor, has been producing and editing videos for Polygon since 2016. He is the lead producer of the tabletop gaming series Overboard.

On the latest episode of Overboard, Polygon’s card and board game show, we played… a video game! Push the Button, from Jackbox Party Pack 6, may as well be a board game for how similar it is to all the hidden role games we’ve played before. Unlike those games, it’s a heck of a lot easier to play Push the Button with your friends from the comfort of your own home. Here’s how it works.

Players are divided into two teams: the honest humans and the alien betrayers. Naturally, the aliens are pretending to be humans, while the human players are trying to figure out who among the crew they can trust. Each round, a captain is randomly assigned by the game. This player gets to pick a testing chamber and fill it with two to four crew members.

The players selected for testing will then be given a prompt in the classic Jackbox style, asking them to draw something, answer a multiple choice question, or offer up their valuable opinion. The twist here is that the alien players won’t get quite the same prompt. For example, the human players could be asked to draw an “animal mascot” while an alien player is asked to draw “corporate mascot.”

Next, the prompt and players submissions are revealed. This is where the accusations begin to fly. Take the example above: an alien player might have drawn the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and now needs to convince the rest of the crew that they are totally an animal mascot. Or maybe they got lucky and drew Tony the Tiger. That’s why the human players need to conduct as many tests as possible before time runs out. Did I mention that? The whole game runs on a timer between 12-18 minutes, depending on the number of players.

To win the game, the human players need to eject all of the alien players into space, and that’s where the titular button comes into play. At any time in the game, each player can decide to press the button, interrupting any ongoing tests, freezing the timer, and sending the players to the airlock. The button presser gets to choose who they think the aliens are, but they can and should listen to the rest of the crew first. That’s because in order to eject players from the ship, the rest of the crew needs to vote unanimously.

Even more critically, each player can only press the button once, so they better not waste their chance. See how we did in the video above, and if you enjoyed watching, check out some of the other hidden role games we’ve played on Overboard. Make sure you subscribe to Polygon’s channel for more great videos.