Icebreakers for creative, nerdy adults
July 18, 2014 5:17 PM   Subscribe

What are some fun ice-breaking games that could be used for a mixed group of 30 science-minded writers and filmmakers? Preferably something involving telling a story and/or sharing anecdotes about themselves (a la "2 Truths and a Lie") in order to foster connection. Trying to find ways to get a sense of someone's history and personality, so games that are just for fun (like Mafia) aren't really going to do the trick here.

Breaking into smaller groups is okay. If it matters, this isn't a corporate team-building scenario-- it's more like adult camp. Bonus points for icebreakers involving science or movies. Thanks!
posted by egeanin to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I usually hate ice breakers, but I loved this one: tell us about something that you believed when you were a child but you know now is not true. I loved hearing peoples stories when we did this. (And this wasn't corporate either, more at like a yoga/meditation retreat thing.)
posted by namemeansgazelle at 6:21 PM on July 18, 2014 [8 favorites]

Problem solving ice breakers are usually my favorite. Like: building a tower or a bridge out a set amount of materials and tallest or most weight-bearing wins.

I also liked Similarities and Differences: find out 3 things you have in common with your partner or teammates and 3 things that neither/none of you with your partner or teammates.

For larger groups:
I played Interesting Personal Fact Bingo at a summer research event once. The organizers had collected interesting personal facts from each attendee previously, made bingo cards out of them, and then we had to find the people that facts pertained to and have them sign the relevant square. It was fun, although we didn't quite approach it as directed.

The plan outlined to us was:
1. Approach a person, introduce yourself, and exchange names.
2. Ask the person about any specific square. If the fact is about the person, they sign it.
3. The other person then asks about a square of their own.
4. Have a brief conversation about the facts discussed, if desired.
5. Repeat steps 1-4 with another person.

First person to get bingo wins a small prize.

We ended up doing it more like this.
1. "Hi, mind if we switch boards?"
2. Look over each other's boards. If there's a relevant fact, sign it.
3. Switch boards back, maybe have a short conversation about the facts listed.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 with another person.

The bingo did spark some good conversations, but since we were really big nerds, we tended to optimize it for efficiency instead of conversation.
posted by wiskunde at 6:25 PM on July 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

That's a good one, namemeansgazelle!

Also fun: break up into partners and discuss the following: You've become a super hero!
1. What're your super abilities?
2. What's your superhero name?
3. What's your costume like?
4. What're your super weaknesses?
5. Why did you choose these attributes?
posted by wiskunde at 6:32 PM on July 18, 2014

I hate ice breakers, but one that was relatively painless and worked pretty well was for everyone to take out a coin from their pocket, look at the date on the coin, and say what they were doing that year.
posted by deanc at 6:48 PM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

If these people don't know each other, a useful one: go around the room and everyone has to introduce themselves with an alliterative adjective AND a gesture to go with.

So when I had to do this in my first improv class, I was Luminous Lyn with a wavy fingers around my face like a drawing of the sun.

I still have one friend who inadvertently makes wavy-sun-hands when he sees me, and I make Alert fox-ears with my fingers even though he doesn't even go by Alex anymore. This was like 5 years ago.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:07 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

(I missed the important part: everyone has to echo back your name and gesture when you do it, and then we went around the circle once more and everyone had to introduce the person opposite them with their name and gesture.)
posted by Lyn Never at 7:07 PM on July 18, 2014

I totally recommend the ChatPack series. I use them in my classroom with teens (who tend to love them after some initial eye rolls and once group comfort sets in) and with friends and family (who tend do it just to humor me, I'll sheepishly admit.) It's totally do-able to make your own but sometimes having a go-to set to "curate" is helpful. I get mine at our local indie bookshop for under $10 each; they tend to have display sets that you can preview in person.
posted by smorgasbord at 8:03 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you have nametags, have everyone write (in addition to their name) an answer to a silly question you pose. I had excellent luck with "your favorite vegetable" because people really like to argue about broccoli, yo. You could do something relevant, like "favorite screenwriter" or "favorite scientist" or something ridiculous like "preferred unlikely method of death." It gives people a conversation starter when they're milling around and chatting.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:07 PM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Break into partners, and have each person answer this:

"Who would play your part in a movie about your life, and why?"

Then get back into a big group and have each person introduce their partner and give their answer to the group.

This one always generates some very interesting answers!
posted by SisterHavana at 9:40 PM on July 18, 2014

"Where did you buy those shoes...and why?" enlivened a potluck years ago.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:13 AM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

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