"Brain teaser" type games for large group
December 6, 2018 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Our group--about 100 to 150 people--is having a holiday party next week in a restaurant, in a private back room. The big boss is suggesting we plan some kind of game(s) with "brain teaser" type questions.

It feels easier to come up with ideas for smaller groups, but not sure what would work for such a large group.

Ideas can't be raunchy or particularly physical. We are a small university, and this party will be for faculty across all departments and their staff. We will provide a prize or a couple of prizes (small, e.g. box of spiffy chocolates). Best if we can plug in org-specific questions or challenges or themes or whatever. I guess what we need is a basic structure or format?

We can't really throw any money at this. Nothing terribly complex or that requires lots of time-consuming prep or large physical props.
posted by primate moon to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oooh, interesting. I am envisioning something where perhaps a smaller group of people could participate while others watch? For me, it would be so fun to be a spectator for my more outgoing colleagues. Otherwise, maybe some kind of trivia thing where people could compete on teams (good-naturedly, of course).
posted by bookworm4125 at 10:35 AM on December 6, 2018

Play a giant game of Wits & Wagers with teams. You can easily make up your own questions for that.
posted by jozxyqk at 10:39 AM on December 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Working in departments/teams "you have five minutes to get from [random/funny wikipedia article] to our University's wikipedia page in the fewest clicks".
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:39 AM on December 6, 2018 [8 favorites]

We've done trivia quizzes in the past. One year we had a "this is a landmark on Google Maps - identify it" round which went down a treat.
posted by kariebookish at 10:43 AM on December 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seconding Wits & Wagers - it is really fun!
posted by soelo at 10:52 AM on December 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Puzzled Pint has nearly 8 years of puzzle sets in its archive.
posted by phunniemee at 11:05 AM on December 6, 2018

A Christmas carol reebus might work for some parties, though maybe not in a large, diverse group.
posted by chrisamiller at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2018

Best if we can plug in org-specific questions or challenges or themes or whatever. I guess what we need is a basic structure or format?

I'd second the idea of a trivia quiz -- with a hundred-plus people, a lot of things start to be hard to arrange physically, and something that lets people arrange themselves and choose to participate or not without making that clear to the entire room is better than something that requires everyone to either engage or not engage.

A sort of broad format could look something like:
- Asking people to form teams of 2-10 people (teams of 4-5 are probably ideal, but no need to be a stickler). Teams should pick their own names, free bonus points for names that reference your organization.
- Trivia questions in sets of ten, played over rounds. Each round should have a theme. It's good to spread categories around so everyone has a chance to be good at something. Similarly, it's good to start off with an easy round (people like to get questions right!) and end with a hard round (people like pull out obscure answers). You could score all rounds the same way (1 pt per question) or scale it up.
- Every team gets a sheet of paper per round -- hand these out up front -- with one printed and numbered line per question (so, numbers 1 to 10 and space for answers following) and space for a team name. This is why you want all the rounds to have the same number of questions: it makes your printing life easier, and it means people can't mix up papers -- you just need to print a bunch of copies of one page, rather than a mix of different pages.
- You read off questions in sets of ten (having a speaker system would help here, depending on the space); or circulate written questions in sets, so that everyone knows when the game is active (and they should be focused on answering) and when it's not (and they can stop thinking about the game for a while). Then people take their own time to write down answers and hand them in; you score the answers and hand the sheets back, then announce the scores for all teams publicly somehow so people know how they're doing. This can be purposefully slow to give people time to talk and socialize, or not. Keep track of team scores on your end somehow.
- Play for three rounds (or longer if you have more time to fill).
- Ask that no one google answers (I wouldn't bar people from using phones entirely -- that's not very fun for a group outing)

That hardest part of this is coming up with good questions -- liberally borrowing from Wits & Wagers (which has all-number answers) or Trivial Pursuit or elsewhere is one place to start. Mixing things up with visual clues is always fun -- "identify these ten country outlines," "name these ten lakes," "name these trees," that sort of thing. Sprinkling true/false answers (or having an entire true/false round) can be handy for things that people should know, since you can use the clues as hints: "the university was founded in 18xx, true or false?" Also fun: the occasional rebus question. The trick to trivia questions is to make them answerable -- hard or really obscure questions can be fun to write, but aren't fun for most people to answer.

You could pretty easily slot in some specific brain teasers for one round or multiple rounds -- it's really all about how you frame your questions. A whole round could be brain teasers rather than trivia; or you could have one brain teaser per round; or, really, whatever works. But if anything is particularly complicated to ask, you're probably better off circulating that on paper rather than reading it off -- no one wants the feeling of getting a brain teaser wrong because they missed hearing part of a question in a loud room.
posted by cjelli at 12:33 PM on December 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

You could get a copy of MindTrap for questions .... hundreds of lateral thinking puzzles.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:47 PM on December 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

The big boss is suggesting we plan some kind of game(s) with "brain teaser" type questions.

It feels easier to come up with ideas for smaller groups, but not sure what would work for such a large group...We can't really throw any money at this.

Stepping back from 'what would a format for a large group look like:' if this is your boss's ask, rather than something that people in general are clamoring for -- which isn't entirely clear from your question -- it might be easier to meet it by having a few different smaller-group games that people could opt into rather than trying to do any kind of game for a larger group at all -- particularly if you (a) can't spend time on prep, and (b) can't spend much money.

If your budget stretches to, say, $100 -- Codenames for $15, Wits & Wagers for $30, and then another two or three similarly-priced pre-made games across four or five tables would work for 20-45 people at the recommended player sizes (avoid Trivial Pursuit and anything else that takes a long time to play.) That might be enough people, depending on what you're actually aiming for -- not everyone may want to engage with this, after all.
posted by cjelli at 1:06 PM on December 6, 2018

Do you have access to a laptop and a projector that you could set up at the restaurant? If so, Kahoot.it or Quizizz.com might be what you're looking for. Often at teacher PD days we'll use one or the other for the type of icebreaker trivia games you're talking about because everybody's got a mobile device in their pocket, right? The games work on basically any mobile device and are totally customizable. I prefer Quizizz because it displays the question and answer choices on the devices while Kahoot requires that you display the questions separately. Both Kahoot and Quizizz have ready-made trivia-style quizzes that are simple to customize with your own questions. Best of all, both are free.
posted by blessedlyndie at 3:49 PM on December 6, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great responses. It turns out this particular task, of coming up with and implementing ideas for games, has been put into somebody else's hands and I think will probably end up getting dropped altogether. My bigger concern, though, was this is NOT a game-playing type crowd, and I won't be surprised if we get hardly any turnout at next year's party as people want to avoid them. Thanks again!
posted by primate moon at 10:52 AM on December 7, 2018

Get each team/department/subgroup to submit trivia questions about their area in advance - then compile them into a big list and set people off to go mingle and see who can get all the answers first.
posted by quacks like a duck at 11:03 AM on December 7, 2018

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