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How to Play the Name on the Back Icebreaker Game

An overhead view of a group of office employees sitting in a close circle.
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The name on the back game is a versatile icebreaker for groups of children or adults, working equally well in party, camp or corporate training environments. The group leader sticks a name on the back of each member of the group. Players can't see their own names and have to question other members of the group to try to work out who they are.

Choose Your Characters

Write the name of a famous person or character on a sticky note or label for each player. It's worth thinking about your group before you choose names -- they'll find it tricky to guess people they don't already recognize. For example, a group of preteens may know all about TV show characters but may struggle to name pop stars from the 1960s. A group of adults may have no issues working out that they are a Beatle but may draw a blank with SpongeBob SquarePants.

Get the Group Chatting

Put a note or label on the back of every player and tell players to pick initial partners and introduce themselves. Players ask their partners one yes/no question about the names on their backs. For example, a player could ask if his character is alive; his partner could ask if her character is a woman. To get maximum interaction within the group, tell players to switch partners after every question. The game continues until everyone works out who they are. If some of the group can't guess their names, give them clues.

Name on the Back Variations

If your event has a theme, consider picking related characters. For example, if you're running a soccer or princess party, choose famous soccer players or princesses. To make the game a little harder, make sure that your characters are all part of a famous pair -- think Bonnie and Clyde, Barack and Michelle Obama and Beyonce and Jay Z -- and have players ask questions to find their partner once they know who their own character is. You can also stick labels/notes on players' foreheads rather than their backs.

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