8 Favorite Group Games for Teenagers

Linsey Jensen // May 20 // 0 Comments
The summer before I left for college was full of mixed emotions. My whole life, I had been preparing to go to Utah State University. After all, that’s where my parents had met and graduated from, and over half of my aunts and uncles had gotten their degrees and met their spouses there as well. I had been told over and over again about the awesome experiences everyone had at USU. In addition to their spouses, they made lasting friendships and lasting memories. I was so excited!
… And I was terrified …
I was the oldest in my family, and moving out was both exhilarating and frightening. Being on my own was going to be completely foreign. I didn’t know anybody in my apartment complex, let alone my roommates. But I was determined to make friends and have a good time.
Unfortunately, my plan backfired on me a little bit.
All five of my roommates had known each other before coming. They had been best friends in high school and were quite content with the relationships they had already formed. We really struggled finding things we had in common. In high school, they had been on the drill team while I had spent my time in AP classes. They enjoyed spending most of their down time watching tv or doing something in the apartment while I preferred to get out, play games, or do something more engaging. They wanted to make cookies and deliver them to the boys next door, but those were not the same group of boys I had my eye on. I didn’t actually like being in my apartment very much. I started staying later and later at the library to study. I remember walking the long way home from school multiple nights in tears, calling my mom on the phone because I was so lonely and frustrated.
I had one good friend from high school who had also decided to come to USU. Conveniently, she lived right next to the library. She started inviting me over to her apartment more and more frequently. And as I expressed my hesitancy to go back to my own apartment, she would often invite me to stay for dinner and cook an extra pack of Ramen Noodles or microwave an extra baked potato (Ah… the lovely meals of a college student!). I got to know her roommates, neighbors, and the boys across the hall whom I found much more attractive and engaging than the ones in my own apartment complex. I started going over to my friend’s apartment complex daily, even when my friend wasn’t there, and I would just hang out in the commons with whomever happened to be around.
As the semester wore on, more and more people would come hang out in the commons area in the evenings and weekends. We would play games, do homework together, or make all sorts of crazy things (straws stretching over 3 stories, gigantic blanket forts, dark mark signs to hang on neighboring buildings, etc.). As the first semester came to a close, a spot opened up in the neighboring girls apartment and I was able to sell my original contract to another of my roommates’ friends from high school. Instead of dreading the upcoming spring semester, I was excited to continue forming friendships with my new friends.
Being able to move into a different apartment with people I actually liked was so good for my emotional sanity. The people at my new apartment complex that year became lifelong best friends. Later years, we would move around to different places, but we often roomed together or at least hung out. Even now, eight years later, I keep in touch with many of them and love to hear updates on their lives.
How did we go about forming such bonding friendships and lasting memories? As mentioned in 5 Ways to Create a More Inviting Home, it is important to having interesting things to do. One of our absolute favorite things to do was play night games. Both indoor and outdoor, active and sedentary. Games that didn’t require preparation or special equipment. Games that didn’t matter how big your group was or if people jumped in half-way. So here is a list of our favorite tried and true group games (with rules listed below):
  1. Smurf
  2. Signs
  3. Murder in the Dark
  4. Ninja Attack
  5. German Spotlight
  6. Psychiatrist
  7. Wink Murder
  8. Mafia


Game 1 – Smurf:

Overview: This is a hilarious logical deduction game where the word “smurf” replaces any other verb. Someone tries to figure out what the original verb was and everyone else has a chance to come up with clever and witty answers.

Location: Anywhere, everyone sitting in a circle

Details: One person leaves the room while the rest of the group decides on a verb or action of some sort (i.e. eating, driving, scuba diving, drinking Gatorade, studying calculus, playing with a stuffed bear, etc… anything you want). That action will be referred to as “smurfing”. The person will come back into the room and can ask anybody else any question they would like to help them figure out what “smurfing” represents. For example, they could ask “when did you last smurf”, “how often do you smurf”, “do you wear specific clothing when you smurf”, “does everyone smurf” etc. The game ends when they figure out what smurf represents.


Game 2 – Signs:

Overview: This is an engaging circle game that requires good perception. Someone stands in the middle and tries to figure out who is “it” while everyone else passes the “it” title around by making each other’s signs.
Location: Anywhere, everyone sitting in a circle
Details: Everyone playing chooses a sign that will represent them (i.e. Tiffany might scratch her head, Ben might make a peace sign, Erika might blow a kiss, etc). Go around the circle at least twice to help people remember each other’s signs. If Tiffany starts the game as “it” she would want to pass the “it” title to someone else like Erika. To pass the “it” title, Tiffany would need to blow a kiss because that was Erika’s sign. Erika then has to accept the “it” title by making her own sign. When Erika blows a kiss, she is now “it” and must pass along the title to someone else like Ben. So she might make a peace sign, but she will still be “it” until Ben makes the peace sign to receive the “it” title. If I am the person in the middle, I look around the circle and try to guess who is “it” in that moment. Everyone else has to pass the signs around sneakily without my noticing. When I correctly guess who is “it”, that person takes my spot in the middle and we play again.

Game 3 – Murder in the Dark:

Overview: Suspenseful night game where people walk with each other in a dark room while the “murderer” tries to kill people off one by one before people guess who (s)he is.
Location: Indoors, a large area preferably using multiple rooms
Details: Using cards or pieces of paper, randomly and secretly choose someone to be the murderer. After everyone looks at their cards, someone turns off the lights and the game starts. People start pairing up by asking others to “walk with me”. They hook elbows and walk together around the room (or even better if you can use multiple rooms). At any point in the game, someone can ask someone else to “walk with me” even if they are with someone else. The murderer can choose to “kill” anybody while walking with them by taking two fingers and pretending to slice their throat. Then (s)he gives the victim instructions on how/when to die (i.e. after you walk with two other people, or go over to the corner, etc.). After following the instructions, the victim then gives out a cry and pretends to die. When someone else playing finds the victim lying on the ground pretending to be dead, they yell “murder in the dark” and turn on the lights. Everyone comes back around the “dead body” and talks about who they think the murderer might be. When someone feels confident that they know who the murderer is, they can accuse that person. If (s)he accuses the correct person and discovers the murderer, then (s)he wins. If (s)he accuses the wrong person, then (s)he also dies and is out the rest of the game.

Game 4 – Ninja Attack:

Overview: Free for all game where everyone uses ninja moves to try to tag other player’s hands to get them out.
Location: Anywhere, everyone starts standing in a circle. Make sure there is a lot of space.
Details: Everyone in tight circle with their shoulders touching. Someone is designated to begin and says “1, 2, 3, ninja… attack!” and everyone jumps backwards into a ninja position. They must maintain that position until they are either attacked or it is their turn. At any point during the game if anybody moves when it is not their turn, they are out. The person who begins then can “attack” someone by making one single ninja move to try to hit somebody’s hand. The person being attacked may make a single ninja move out of the way. If that person’s hand is hit, that person is out. Play continues clockwise around the circle. The next person in the circle can then “attack” someone and that person can defend. Play continues in the circle until only person is left.

Game 5 – German Spotlight:

Overview: Exciting mix between hide and seek and capture the flag at night. One person walks around trying to find people with the flashlight while the others hide and/or try to get people out of jail.
Location: Outdoors or indoors in the dark. If playing indoors, make sure there is lots of space, preferably multiple rooms and potentially even multiple floors.
Details: One person is designated as “it”, in this example it’s Tiffany. Tiffany holds the flashlight and walks around trying to find everyone else. If she spots Ben, she will say “German spotlight on Ben” making sure to use his name. Ben must then go to the designated jail and wait there until someone frees him. Erika in the meantime has done a really good job of hiding from Tiffany, so she sneaks over to the jail cell and tags Ben without being caught. Ben is now free to go hide and explore again. The game ends when everybody is in jail. If there is an exceptionally large group, you could give flashlights to two people.

Game 6 – Psychiatrist:

Overview: Logical deduction game where one person acts as the “psychiatrist” and asks everyone else in the groups questions trying to figure out what their “disorder” might be.
Location: Anywhere, everyone sits in a circle
Details: Group decides on who wants to be the psychiatrist first. The psychiatrist then leaves the room while everyone else figures out what their disorder will be. Some examples of disorders could be answering the previous question (the very first person says something random), having to include a number in their answer, answering with a certain letter of the alphabet (or even going in alphabetical order), answer with a color of the rainbow, answer using only the first letter of your name, etc. It can be anything. The psychiatrist comes back into the room and starts asking specific people questions. As (s)he asks questions, (s)he tries to figure out the “disorder” (or the pattern) that everyone else is using to answer the questions.

Game 7 – Wink Murder:

Overview: One person is the murderer and winks at other people in the circle to kill them. Everyone else tries to guess who the murderer is.
Location: Anywhere, everyone sits in a circle
Details: Using cards or pieces of paper, randomly assign one person to be the murderer. When the game begins, everyone looks around making eye contact with other people in the circle. The murderer can wink at anybody he makes eye contact with to kill them. That person must then count to five before dying a dramatic death. At any point in time, anybody can make an accusation. If that person accuses correctly, they win. But if they accuse incorrectly, then that person dies and is out of the game.

Game 8 – Mafia:

Overview: Popular social deduction game with mafia members trying to kill off the detectives and townspeople while everyone else tries to kill off the mafia.
Location: Anywhere, everyone sitting in a circle
Details: One person volunteers to be the moderator. Using cards or pieces of paper, the moderator randomly assign everyone else to be members of the mafia, detectives, or a townsperson. There should be roughly 1 mafia member for every 3-4 players, and 1 detective for every 5-6 players. The moderator then tells everyone that it’s nighttime and they need to go to sleep (everyone closes their eyes). The moderator then tells the mafia members to wake up. The mafia members open their eyes, look at each other, then quietly decide on one person they want to kill. The moderator tells the mafia to go back to sleep and they close their eyes. The moderator then tells the detectives to wake up. They open their eyes, look at each other, then decide on one person they think might be a member of the mafia. The moderator will say the words “yes” or “no” out loud for everyone to hear. The moderator then tells the detectives to go back to sleep, then announces it’s morning time and everyone can wake up. The moderator then makes up a story about how so-and-so died (the person the mafia killed). As a group, everyone discusses who they think members of the mafia might be giving reasons for and alibis against. Eventually, the moderator calls for a vote, and the person with the highest number of votes gets killed by the townspeople. They tell everyone who they were (mafia, detective, or townsperson). Then it is night time again and the moderator starts over with whomever is left. The mafia win when they kill all the townspeople and detectives, and the townspeople win when they kill all the mafia.

What other night games have you played that you love? Let me know in the comments below!

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