A quick icebreaker that will reveal those with a weak poker face – the ‘Ghost’ word association game is all about listening carefully and thinking on your feet. Can you keep your cool under pressure and fool your teammates?
Each team member is given a piece of paper containing the category for the game, they’ll then take it in turns to give a related word back to the team. However, one or two of the group will get ‘ghost’ instead of the category, so they’ll need to listen to the related words coming from the rest of the group and make an educated guess without giving away that they’re the ghost!
Once you’ve been around the group once, the team must decide who they think are the ghosts. If the ghosts are guessed correctly, the team win. If the ghosts remain hidden, they have beaten the team.
- One slip of paper per player. All with the chosen category written or printed, except one or two which will simply say ‘ghost’.
- Let’s say you have a group of 10 for this icebreaker. Prepare 8 slips of paper with a category written or printed (e.g. London) and 2 slips which simply read ‘ghost’ instead of the category.Fold them in half and place in a hat (a coffee mug does the trick). If you have less than 6 players we recommend having just 1 ghost. The game will take 5-10 minutes, so you may want to prepare for a couple of rounds with different categories.
Ask the group to gather in a circle, then pass round the hat (or mug) and ask the group to take one slip of paper without showing anyone.They must read their paper and they’ll either have the category (e.g. London) or ‘ghost’. Remember – they must keep this to themselves!
Choose someone at random to start the game. Ask them to give a word to the group related to the category e.g. if the category is ‘London’ they might say ‘Underground’. The next person in the circle continues with a word related to ‘London’ until everyone in the group has had a go.
Once everyone has said a word, it’s time to vote for the ghost(s)! Encourage the team to discuss and debate.
Who seemed unsure of their contribution? Who’s word was least related to the category? Bring the conversation to a vote for person(s) who the team collectively believe to be the Ghost. Finally, ask the accused whether they were, in fact, a ghost or not…
If they were the ghost(s), then the team have won the game.
If they were not a ghost, then the real ghost(s) have won and can now reveal themselves!
The Ghost icebreaker is great for teams of all sizes and can be used to fill any time-box by doing a single game or preparing multiple categories for multiple rounds.
If you have the category, the trick is to pick a word that is abstract enough not to make it obvious to the ghost(s) in the group, yet still clear enough to let your fellow teammates know that you do actually have the category.
If you’re a ghost, you’ll need to think fast on your feet so that you appear confident when your turn comes. You’ll also need to pay close attention to what has been said already so that you can make an educated guess at the category.
If you’re a ghost and you’re unlucky enough to be picked to begin the round, your best bet is to pick a broad word (like a colour) and say it with confidence – you may get caught out straight away, but this can make for a real laugh!