A traditional parlor game for large or small groups, charades was once so popular as an after-dinner activity that it was known simply as "The Game." Its recorded history dates back to 16th century France, and the name has become a catchphrase for many different pantomime games. Many boxed versions with suggestions and timers are available, and several TV shows have been made using the basic idea of the game.
In most versions, one player silently acts out a title (book, movie, show, etc.), phrase or person and their team must guess it. The words can be from a commercially made list or just creatively made up by the players. Many signals and conventions have become traditional (see link below). The experience is usually humorous, whether you are strenuously flapping away like a buzzard - alternating with pretending to push a buzzer and lying dead on the floor - for several minutes while your team guesses everything but buzzard ("bird!" "scavenger!" "bird of prey!!" "raptor?") or frantically struggling to think up clever clues. Many of the clues use the "sounds like" hint - pretending to sew for the word "so," for example. The excitement and frustration of piecing together the clues and guessing is also a great part of the fun, of course, and the relief is immense for both the actor and the guessing team when the guess is finally (or miraculously suddenly) correct. The game usually produces much laughter in the group playing it - solving the riddles is only part of the experience.