20 Fun Icebreaker Games

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Jun 16, 2022
Updated on
Jun 16, 2022
Table of Content

Every relationship needs personal and meaningful connections, whether they are professional or personal. These connections are what helps teams to become more comfortable with each other, understand each other better, work better together and ultimately develop a stronger and more resilient relationship.

According to a popular study, establishing a strong social network is crucial for the psychological and physical well-being of individuals. It helps in reducing anxiety and depression, and increases self-esteem and happiness.

Although there are many different ways to create strong social and personal connections, one of the most commonly used and effective methods is icebreaker games.

Playing games is a fun way to get to know someone. It also helps break the ice, especially if you are meeting someone for the first time. Games help create an environment that is conducive to social interaction.

There are a lot of icebreaker games that you can play – it’s just a matter of picking the ones that will benefit your team the most and get you closer to the goal that you are trying to achieve.

 Let's take a look at 20 of the best icebreaker games that you can play with your team.

What Are Icebreaker Games?

Icebreaker games aren’t your average soccer match or chess tournament; they are games played to help people socialise and create meaningful connections. These games are usually played in social gatherings like parties, meetings, get-togethers and other events to help people feel more comfortable with each other. 

Icebreaker games aim to connect people who might not know each other well and help them find common ground. They also help ease the tension and make the group feel more relaxed. If you’ve ever been part of a group trying to get to know each other, it’s likely you have engaged in these types of games before. 

There are a number of well-known icebreaker games that can be played, and the best ones usually depend on the group of people that you are playing with. However, some games are more popular than others and tend to work well with almost any group. 

For example, if you want to learn people's names, a classic icebreaker game is to go around the room and have everyone say their name plus something that they like. This is a simple way to get everyone to start talking, and it also helps everyone remember each other's names. 

Another popular icebreaker game is to ask everyone to share an embarrassing story. This is a great way to get people laughing and make members feel at ease with each other.

Why Icebreakers Are Great for Teams to Use

So why should teams use icebreaker games as opposed to kicking around a football (or playing nothing at all)? Here are some of the key reasons:

Team Building

For a team to be successful, its members need to trust and respect each other. Relying on your teammates is crucial when working together towards a common goal; otherwise you’ll find that everyone’s on different pages, and organisation becomes futile.

The shared experience of playing icebreaker games builds that trust and respect your team needs. It is a way for them to bond and build relationships that can last beyond the workplace.

Communication

An important aspect of any team is communication. If team members don’t feel comfortable communicating and sharing, performance will be severely hindered and it will show in the work that they produce. Icebreakers can help promote communication by getting team members to interact with each other and share information about themselves.

This back and forth communication contributes to an environment where team members feel more comfortable interacting with each other, which can be beneficial when working on projects or solving problems together.

Energy

All work and no play may lead to boredom and tension in your team. Management can lighten the mood in the workplace by implementing icebreaker games. Games are an excellent way to break the ice, get to know one another better, and foster teamwork. 

Aside from that, games can liven up any party or business function and prevent it from becoming a snooze-fest. It can also improve team spirit and drive employees to perform better. Games can be something the team looks forward to and treasures when they happen, building that trust and respect evermore.

Productivity

If employees perceive their workplace as an area where they can have fun and relax with their colleagues, they will be more likely to feel happy coming in to work each day. When people feel good, they are more productive. It has been proven time and time again that happy employees yield better results. 

For a highly productive team, incorporating icebreaker games from time to time can relieve stress and get the creative juices flowing freely. Furthermore, if you want to see some real productivity gains, make sure the icebreakers you choose are ones that everyone can enjoy and feel comfortable doing.

Learning

An icebreaker is a game that you play not just to help your team to get along, but also to learn about each other. It is an excellent opportunity for team members to discover their colleagues' talents, experiences, and expertise. Team members may discover about each other's likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and what makes them tick by playing icebreaker games. 

List of Fun Icebreakers for Teams

In this article, we provide 20 fun icebreaker games that you can play to get to know your team better. These icebreakers are perfect for both remote and in-person teams. Rest assured that these activities don't require divulging personal information, which is a great thing for introverts who dread those pesky 'getting to know you' questions. 

Furthermore, these icebreakers can be tailored to the environment and size of your team, so, whether you are in a large conference room or a small huddle room, we’ve got you covered!

To help you find what you're looking for, we have categorised them into the following themes:

  • Icebreakers made for Zoom
  • Icebreakers for retrospective meetings
  • Icebreakers for getting to know each other
  • Icebreakers to improve team collaboration
  • Icebreakers to reduce stress

Icebreakers for Zoom meetings

Now that most employees meet each other only through a computer screen, it's more important than ever to have fun icebreaker games to help everyone feel comfortable and connected. Here are 4 fun zoom icebreaker games:

1. Two truths and a lie: Have each person come up with two truths about themselves and one lie. Then, go around the (virtual) room and have each person share their three statements. The rest of the group has to guess which one is the lie and which are the two truths.

2. Word association: Go around the room and have each person say one word. Then, the next person has to say a word that is associated with the previous one (e.g., ‘tree’ could be followed by ‘leaf’). This game can get hilarious as the associations get more and more creative.

3. Never have I ever: Have each person come up with 5-10 things they've never done before. Then, go around the room and have each person share one of their items. Anyone who has done that thing has to raise their hand.

4. What's in your purse/wallet/ pockets?: Have each person empty out their purse, wallet, or pockets and share the contents with the group. This is a great way to get to know what people are like outside of work.

Icebreakers for retrospective meetings

Retrospective meetings are held at the end of Sprints to discuss what went well and what could be improved. They're a key part of the Agile process, but can often be unproductive and frustrating if the team isn’t comfortable with each other or is unwilling to share. A good icebreaker can help team members get to know each other better and open up about what they're thinking and feeling.

These 4 icebreaker games can be used at the beginning of your next retrospective to make it more productive and fun:

1. Safety check: This game is all about getting everyone to share something personal with the group. Each person starts by sharing one thing that they're feeling good about and one that they're feeling worried about. This helps everyone to understand each other's concerns and builds trust within the team.

2. Appreciations: In this game, everyone takes turns to share something they appreciate about another team member. This could be something they did that helped the team or just something they like about them. Appreciation is a great way to build positive relationships within the team.

3. The three word game: This game is all about getting to know each other's communication styles. People take turns describing themselves using three words, and the rest of the group has to guess what those words are. The three word game can help everyone understand how to communicate with each other more effectively.

4. The ball game: This game is all about teamwork. One person starts by sharing a problem they're having, then the rest of the team then has to come up with a solution to that problem. It’s a great way to get everyone thinking creatively and working together.

Icebreakers for getting to know each other

Team members need to know each other so that they have an idea of who they're working with as well as what each person's strengths and weaknesses may be. Whether you’re onboarding new employees onto your team or adding new team members to a project you want to make sure they are properly introduced to everyone and have a chance to share a little about themselves.

Additionally, if team members have been together for a while, it's still beneficial to do icebreakers from time to time to keep things fresh and to ensure that everyone is still on the same page.

We have 4 icebreaker games that you can play to introduce your team members to one another and get them to know each other better:

1. Group map: Draw a large map of your city, state, country, or the world on a poster board or whiteboard. Ask each person to put a dot on the map to represent where they are from. Once everyone has placed their dots, have each person share a fact or story about their hometown.

2. Draw your coat of arms: Ask each person to draw their hypothetical coat of arms on a piece of paper. They can use symbols to represent things that are important to them or that represent their personality. Once everyone has finished, have each person share their drawing and explain the meaning behind the symbols.

3. Human scavenger hunt: Make a list of items that can be found on a person (e.g., items in a purse, items in a pocket, etc.). Ask everyone to go around and find those items amongst themselves. 

Once they have found someone with each item, they should introduce themselves and ask the other person about the item. For example, if they find someone with a pen, they might ask, “Do you always carry a pen with you?” or “What’s your favourite pen to write with?”

4. Line up: Ask everyone to line up according to specific criteria, such as height, birth month, shoe size, etc. Once everyone is in line, have each person introduce themselves to the person in front of them and the person behind them.

Icebreakers to improve team collaboration

Team collaboration is crucial for workplace productivity. To work together efficiently and effectively, it is important for team members to feel comfortable communicating with one another. One way to promote team collaboration is to use icebreaker games.

These are icebreaker games that can boost teamwork and collaboration in your workplace:

1. Human knot: This is a classic icebreaker game that is perfect for large groups. To play, have everyone stand in a circle and put their right hand in the centre. Then, have everyone grab the hand of someone who is not standing next to them. The goal is to untangle the knot of hands without letting go of anyone’s hands!

2. The marshmallow challenge: This icebreaker game is all about teamwork and creative problem-solving. To play, divide your team into small groups and give each group a marshmallow, some spaghetti, and some tape. 

The challenge is for the team to build the tallest free-standing structure using only the materials provided. The team that builds the tallest structure wins!

3. Helium stick: For this game, you will need a long, thin stick (such as a dowel or broom handle) and a piece of cloth. To play, have your team stand in a circle and hold the stick in the centre with both hands. 

Then, have everyone grasp the end of the stick with their teeth. The goal is to lower the stick to the ground without anyone letting go of the stick or dropping it. If the stick falls to the ground, the team must start over.

4. Balloon stomp: This is a fun and active icebreaker game that is perfect for large groups. To play, you will need a balloon for each player. Have everyone blow up their balloon and tie it around their ankle. The goal of the game is to pop other players’ balloons while keeping your own intact. The last player with an intact balloon wins!

Icebreakers to reduce stress

Stress is part of every workplace setup. Of course, some workplaces are more stressful than others, but there are always going to be certain elements of work that can make us feel tense and anxious. For example, meeting new people, attending networking events, or even public speaking can all be potential sources of stress.

One way to help reduce the amount of stress in these situations is to participate in icebreaker games. These are 4 games you can play to relieve workplace stress:

1. Dream study space: This game is designed to help people feel more comfortable sharing their dreams and goals with others. To play, everyone in the group writes down their biggest dream on a piece of paper. Once everyone has finished, they take turns sharing their dream with the group.

2. The name game: This game is designed to help people remember each other's names. To play, everyone in the group says their name and something they like (e.g., "I'm Sarah and I like cats"). 

Then, everyone else in the group repeats what the first person said and adds their own name and likes (e.g., "Sarah likes cats and I'm John and I like dogs"). This continues until everyone in the group has had a chance to introduce themselves.

3. O-H-I-O: To play this getting-to-know-you game, everyone in the group stands in a circle. Then, going around, each person says three things about themselves (e.g., "I'm from Ohio, I like to read, and my favourite colour is blue"). After everyone has had a chance to introduce themselves, the group can ask each other questions about the things they shared.

4. Raise your hand: Designed to help people learn about each other's interests, this game starts with everyone in the group standing up and raising one hand. Then, going around, each person says something they're interested in (e.g., "I'm interested in learning to play the guitar"). 

After everyone has had a chance to share their interests, the group can discuss what was said and ask each other questions about the things they're interested in

Icebreaker games are a wonderful way to relieve tension and make people feel more at ease in uncomfortable circumstances. Try one of these games the next time you're stressed to help you relax and enjoy the moment.

How to Best Implement Icebreakers

Implementing icebreakers can be tough, especially if it's your first time hosting an event, or if you're shy yourself. However, to help your team create meaningful connections with icebreaker games, here are things you need to ensure to make your icebreakers successful:

Area

Where you'll be holding the icebreaker will make an impact on its success. If you're in a large room, you'll want to use a game that gets everyone up and moving. If you're in a smaller room, you may want to hold a game that's more focused on listening and communication.

Objectives

When you're looking for an icebreaker, you should also have a specific objective or goal in mind; these will help you determine which icebreaker would be the best fit for your team. Otherwise, it might be less effective.

For example, if you're looking to promote teamwork, you'll want to choose an icebreaker that gets everyone working together towards a common goal. If you're looking to improve communication, you'll want to choose an icebreaker that gets everyone talking to each other.

Time

The amount of time you have for the icebreaker also affects its success. You'll want to make sure that the game you choose can be completed within the time frame that you have. 

For instance, if you're left with an hour to conduct an icebreaker, you won't want to choose a game that will take two hours to complete and have to rush through. Instead,  opt for something that the team can complete within the given time frame, such as Two Truths and a Lie, or something that will get everyone up and moving, such as the Name Game.

Group Number

The number of people needed for the game to be played should be carefully considered. If too many people are needed, the game may not be successful in breaking the ice. If too few people are needed, the game may not be challenging enough or not enough sharing will be done to make the icebreaker game worthwhile.

So for example, if you're going to play the Marshmallow Game, you need at least four people. But if you're playing the Telephone Game, you can get away with as little as two people.

Materials

Some icebreaker games will require materials that you may not have on hand. If you're planning to play the Balloon Drop, for example, you'll need a lot of balloons. It's always a good idea to have a few backup games in case you can't find the materials you need for your first choice.

Good Luck, and Have Fun!

In conclusion, playing an icebreaker game can be used as a team-building exercise to help people work better together, get a team introduced to each other, and get a current team to collaborate better.

Next time you get together with friends or colleagues in a group setting, try out some of these games and see how much fun you can have! You’ll be amazed at how quickly they break the tension, and how your team grows closer with each game.

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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