What are Icebreaker Games?

Mary McMahon

Icebreaker games are casual games which are designed to make people more comfortable with each other. They are often used at conferences, companies, and meetings so that a group of strangers will learn a little bit about each other, ensuring that they can work together smoothly on a project. There are numerous books of icebreaker games designed for a range of needs, and you can also find extensive listing of such games on the Internet. If you are planning an event where icebreaker games might be valuable, try searching for “icebreaker games” with your favorite search engine; you might want to try adding a search term like “for children” or “for a company” to narrow your search results.

Icebreakers are meant to breakdown barriers in a group of people.
Icebreakers are meant to breakdown barriers in a group of people.

The goal of icebreaker games is to break down barriers between a group of people. They often take the form of party games which require either cooperation or disclosure, usually about basic things like favorite colors or foods. These games encourage sharing and bonding, thus allowing people to get to know each other in a comfortable environment. Often, people remember small details of icebreaker games, which can strengthen their relationships with each other.

People often use icebreaker games to kick off a holiday party.
People often use icebreaker games to kick off a holiday party.

The exact content of icebreaker games varies, depending on their context. For example, a group of children might play some party games on their first day of school so that they will be comfortable with each other throughout the school year. These games might be focused on getting children to learn each other's names, along with a little bit about each other, while also promoting ethics like sharing and kindness. A group of businessmen, on the other hand, might go on a retreat in which they play ice breaker games which build trust, respect, and cooperation.

Some icebreaker games might get more personal, pushing the boundaries of the players to get them to step outside their comfort zones. These games are more common in situations like group therapy, where a group may be working together on serious issues for an extended period of time. These icebreaker games are designed to facilitate trust between the participants, while getting people comfortable with revealing personal information to each other.

These sorts of games can also be used as simple, fun entertainment at events like speed dating and holiday parties. In these cases, people quickly get to know each other in the hopes of becoming closer friends in the future. Sometimes more emphasis may be placed on physical contact or cooperation in these games, to encourage a tighter, more friendly bond.

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Discussion Comments


@carrotisland: This is a great game for parties, especially if you know who is coming ahead of time. It is called the lie detector game. It works well in groups of people who don’t know each other very well.

Before the party, or even on the invitation, ask each guest to bring to the party a piece of paper with some information about themselves. They need to put 3 statements about themselves, only 2 of which are true. During the party, the guests will take turns reading their statements. They should all be presented as though they were all 3 true.

After each person presents their statements, the group decided by voting which of the 3 statements is a lie. It’s really a fun way to get to know each other.


@carrotisland: Telephone Charades is a fun icebreaker game. It is also called “Charades down the Line”. It is best played in smaller groups of about five or six. All you need to play is pen and paper.

Here’s how to play: Have five or 6 people line up in a row, facing the left side of whatever room you are in. The first person gets the first clue to be acted out. You will reveal a clue to that person of the charade they are to act out. You can show the “audience” the clue, as well.

That person turns around and taps the person that is next in line on the shoulder. Without speaking, he or she must try to act out their clue using classic charades. The second person then taps the third person and acts out whatever their interpretation of the clue was, and on down the line. It is hilarious to see what it is interpreted as once it gets to the last person.

Some examples of clues to act out are: a cat bathing itself, a person skydiving, a person fishing or catching a big fish.


Does anyone have some examples of some good icebreakers games?

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