What it is: A good game for big groups of people involving talking, speed, guessing, acting, and usually laughing. Kind of a mix of charades and catchphrase.

Best for: A big group of at least 10 players.

What you need: Slips of paper and pens to write with. And also a hat or bowl to put all the slips of paper in. And a timer.

How to play: First, write down names of people or characters on the slips of paper. You could prepare this ahead of time on your own (or print off mine!). Or, hand out a slip of paper to every person in the room and have everyone write down the name of someone famous (a person, alive or dead, or a character). You don’t have to have the same number of papers as players; that’s just a convenient way to set up the game. The more names you have written, the longer your game will be.

Once you have all your names written down, fold each one up and put them in the hat or bowl. Then divide your players into two teams (drawing a line down the center of the room is an easy way). Now you’re ready to play.

The game consists of team members guessing the names on the slips of paper throughout three rounds. The team who guesses the most names after the three rounds wins. Here’s how it works.

The first round is just like catchphrase. Team 1 sends up a player (say Jake) up to the front. Jake stands at the ready, and the designated timer person starts the time. (You can choose a time that works best for you, but about 30 seconds usually works well.) As soon as the time starts, Jake draws a name from the hat and starts getting his teammates to guess. Just like catchphrase, Jake can talk and say anything except the celebrity’s name, or any part of it.

So, if Jake drew the name Billy the Kid, he might say, “A famous outlaw from the American Old West!” but he couldn’t say, “An outlaw who was referred to as a kid!” because kid is written on the paper.

As soon as Jake’s teammates say “Billy the Kid!” Jake gets to draw another slip of paper. He goes through as many names as he can until the time runs out (no skipping allowed). Then save all of Team 1’s correct slips in a pile until the end of the round.

Next team 2 gets a turn, and you keep rotating teams and players until all the slips of paper have been guessed correctly. Have each team count up the correct names in their piles and write down each team’s total somewhere. Next, put all the slips of paper back in the hat. Then round 2 starts.

Round 2 is just like charades. Just like in round 1, players come to the front, draw slips of paper, and try to get their teammates to guess as many names as they can before the time runs out, but this time players are not allowed to talk, only act. So if Carlos drew Billy the Kid this time, he could pretend to draw a gun out of his holster to get his teammates to guess the name.

Round 2 should be somewhat easier because everyone’s heard the names once before. Just like in round 1, have each team save up their correct guesses and count up the total at the end. Then, put all the papers back in the hat for the third and final round.

Round 3 is similar to round 1. Players get their teammates to guess names by talking—but this time, players are only allowed one word. So if Jake happened to draw Billy the Kid again, he might say “Outlaw!” and wait for his team to guess the right name. Guessers have the advantage this round of having heard each name twice before, so memory comes to play as much of a role as guessing does. If Jake’s one word just doesn’t cut it and his team doesn’t guess it right away, they’re forced to keep guessing and thinking until the time runs out. Speed is still important, because Jake wants to get through as many names as possible before the time runs out. (You might find that a shorter time, like 10 seconds, works better for round 3.)

At the end of the round, count up each team’s names one more time, and then add each team’s totals from rounds 1, 2, and 3. The team with the most correct guesses overall wins.

Variations: You don’t have to play with people’s names. The game could also work well with movie titles, books, etc. Or you could easily put a themed spin on the game (historical celebrities, for example). I’ve also made a Thanksgiving version.

Printables: If you want a list of famous people and characters ready to go, just print out mine! Click the link below, print, and cut along the lines. And for more printable lists of people and also movie titles, check out the pictionary post. Enjoy!

Printable-markerList of famous people and characters


    1. Deborah, what a great idea! I’ve never tried that but I hope it goes well. You could use Bible characters or maybe even Bible stories…hope it works and that your class enjoys!

  1. I have played a board game exactly like this before but cannot remember the name of it. Would you happen to know the name of the game?

  2. Do have an online game made for this? We’d like to play over Zoom. But don’t know how to get a charade generator to repeat the celebrities for each round.

    1. Ah, that’s tricky. I talked to my app programmer husband, and we decided the only way it can work is if you have one administrator who’s in charge of the words, knows the answers, and can give them out. I know that’s not ideal; it would be best if everyone could play. But if you could take turns and make one person in charge for the game, they could collect everyone’s words over text or chat, scramble them (either with paper slips or by typing them up in Excel or something), and text or chat them out to one person, one at a time. Not ideal, but that’s the only way I can think to do it. Does that make sense?

    1. If a team gets stuck on a name, players can keep trying to guess until the time runs out. At that point, the person who’s acting or describing can reveal the name, and their team doesn’t get a point for it. Or the name can go back in the hat or bowl for the other team to have a turn with. If it’s the first round and there’s a name that most people aren’t familiar with or that people just aren’t guessing, maybe it’s best to reveal the name. Then players should have a better chance of guessing it on round 2 or 3.

Leave a Reply