Creativity Games

These are a collection of games I have come up with to help spur creativity or enter into a more creative mindset.

Bad Ideas

Come up with as many bad ideas as possible about a specific topic. Whether that is coming up with horrible app ideas, interface designs, or the worst things to say at a dinner party. Try to describe each idea out loud and avoid writing anything down as it may slow your pace. Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes and see how many bad ideas you can come up with.

The idea behind this exercise is not just that it gets you actively thinking and coming up with ideas but also that it takes down any mental barriers or blocks to creativity. While trying to come up with good ideas we tend to restrict ourselves and only follow paths of reasoning which we trust. However, by intentionally coming up with bad ideas we can areas of thought which we might not have otherwise been able to get to. In fact, many of these ideas might inspire better ideas, or even turn out to be not so bad after all!

Sequential Statements

Start by making a statement about a familiar object or concept, for example, "the sky is blue". And then each statement following should start with the end of the last sentence, in this case the next statement could be "blue is the colour of blueberries". Then "blueberries are a fruit", and on and on in this format. Try to be spontaneous and use one of the first things that come to mind — as long as that doesn't lead you in a loop (the sky is blue; blue is the color of the sky)

Example #1:

Example #2:

The game can become quite interesting if you start making followup statements, "the sky is blue because [...]" but be careful not to spend too long on tangents to keep the game going.

Definition Game

There are often many words we know or even use in conversation which we would find difficult to define if asked. This game is about trying to come up with accurate definitions of words which pop into your head. Not only does this help improve your vocabulary and find gaps in your understanding but it also gets your whole mind thinking and problem solving the definitions of difficult words.

Some words to get you started

  • Abscond
  • Ardent
  • Cordial
  • Esoteric
  • Fervor
  • Hapless
  • Hubris
  • Irony
  • Laconic
  • Maxim
  • Modicum
  • Pedagogy
  • Quixotic
  • Squalid
  • Tenacious
  • Trope
  • Vehemently
  • Zenith

Try to use a mix of common and uncommon words, so that you're not always stuck on what something means but also spend time figuring out how to best phrase the definition to a word you know well.

Sometimes you can triangulate a meaning for an unfamiliar word from sentences or phrases where you've heard it used in the past. However if you have absolutely no clue about a word, you can always skip it and look it up later.

Think Without Words

A more meditative exercise where one must imagine objects and places without thinking of the words associated with them. If you imagine fire, try not to think of the word "fire" but to conjure the image or concept in your imagination.

Once you separate your thoughts from language, what thoughts can you have through solely imagined imagery, sounds, or concepts? Can you reason, plan, think about complex ideas, is it possible for example to consider philosophical or epistemological quandaries without language?

Personally, I find that thinking in imagery entails an entirely different thought process than thinking in words. There are things I can think about through imagery that I could not have conceptualized through words alone, and vice-versa.

This is also a very good technique to think in a foreign language by first separating your thoughts from your native language.

Of course, this exercise would be more intended for someone who thinks primarily with words. If most of one's concious thought consists of images, this exercise likely would not be helpful.