The “Never Have Enough” Game Suggestions Blog Post
Within the context of Student Ministry, I am always looking for new, different and engaging games to play with my students. More than that, I am always looking for games that will equalize the playing the field. Sure, there are times where we play a game that will let the athletes flex their muscles and show off their prowess. But I also try to find other times where we let the intellectuals of our group show-off their critical thinking skills and capacity. Thus, when I think of games or play games and analyze what is best for our group and my students, this is always the lens through which I look. Therefore, I will try to highlight some of our favorite games that we have found as a Student Ministry.
Three of our favorite, minimal prep games that I hold in my back-pocket often are (what we call) Fishbowl, Empire, and 4-On-A-Couch. Each of these requires only paper and pens, a bowl or hat, and memorization.
Fishbowl is a game where everyone writes down three nouns on different pieces of paper, and puts them all into the bowl or hat. There are two teams, and three rounds. The teams take turns drawing a piece of paper, and trying to get their team to guess the noun they have. The first round is like Catchphrase, you can describe the noun but you cannot say the actual word or say “Rhymes with…” The second round is like charades, where the person must act out the card. The third and final round, the person only gets one word to describe the noun. The goal is to get the most points as a team.
Empire is a game where you pick a category as a group, such as fruits, states, or colors. One person is the moderator, and every other person then picks an item in said category and tells the moderator (secretly) what they chose. You can have everyone write it down and place it in a hat or bowl and the moderator can read it that way. The moderator reads the completed list of everyone’s selections twice, mixing up the order as they are told them so as not to give away who is what. One person starts and tries to guess what someone else said. If they guess someone else correctly, that person whom they guessed is now on the guessers “empire,” and that empire now gets to guess again. You keep guessing until you guess incorrectly. If someone guesses incorrectly, it is now the turn of the person that they guessed. You can guess an established empire by guessing the head of the empire. If you guess them correctly, that entire empire is now in your empire. The goal is to become the largest empire and guess every other person.
Four-On-A-Couch was introduced to me by one of my previous students, and has quickly become one of our favorite games. We usually play guys versus girls (i.e. you need two teams). You will need a circle of chairs including one extra chair than the amount of people playing, and one couch preferably, or designate four seats as your “couch.” Everyone takes a piece of paper and writes down their name and then places it into the hat or bowl. Then, everyone draws a name from the hat or bowl; you are now that name. You will need two people from each team starting on the couch. The person with the empty chair to the left of them goes first by saying the name of someone in the circle (remember, everyone wrote down their own name). The person who currently has that name moves to the open seat, and then trades name papers with the person who called that name. Then the person with the open seat to the left of them now goes. The game continues until you are able to get all four seats on the couch filled with members from your team.
One other game that we love as a group and that is very easy to play is Catchphrase. You can buy it at Walmart for $20 or less and it is well worth the investment. You sit in a circle in two teams, sitting every other person. The game shows a word and starts a timer. You can describe the word or the noun but you cannot say the word or say “rhymes with,” or “sounds like.” It is like hot potato in that you do not want the timer to run out while you are holding it. The person left holding the game when the timer does run out gives the other team a point. The game ends when one team earns seven points.
Another favorite of my students’ is the Jackbox games. I have an Xbox One, so we use that. There are now five different packs I believe, but each one contains five or six games for up to ten players sometimes. You logon to jackbox.tv on your phone and enter the room code, and everyone can play the game through their phone. These games are fun and goofy, ranging from business pitches and inventions, to trivia, to designing t-shirts, to rap battles. Again, I believe these are well worth the investment (We host a different grade each month and these are usually the games my students want to play).
THROW THROW BURRITO
Finally, a new game that I have had for a little over a month but that has become an instant favorite is called Throw Throw Burrito. It was made by the creators of Exploding Kittens (another funny small group game). Basically, this is a mix of spoons and dodgeball. There are no turns, so everyone is frantically looking at and passing cards, trying to lay down sets of three of a kind. There are three different cards that when laid down in sets of three cause different rules: Burrito Brawl, Burrito War, and Burrito Duel. On these cards, people grab the plush burritos that come with the game and either: The two people on either side of the one who laid them down race to grab it and throw it at each other, everyone except the one who laid them down race to grab a burrito and throw it at anyone else, or the person who laid them down picks two people and these two literally stand up back to back and have a duel, respectively. I played it first with my family and friends, and then tried it with a smaller group of students to play-test it. It was an instant hit.
Undoubtedly games are part of Student Ministry. Sometimes you need something to break the ice in the beginning, or create some fun in the middle or end of your time together. These are all simple and relatively inexpensive games that I have found work for my ministry and my context. They all do a great job to level the playing field, and I would encourage you to think about doing this more if you have not already. Instead of playing baseball, try wiffle ball. Instead of playing dodgeball, try Throw Throw Burrito. How might we create environments where all students might, or at least have a chance to succeed?
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.