Propless Games


Imagine this…

You enter a classroom to conduct a workshop. You meet a group of total strangers who look gloomy and grim. You know that all of them have been forced to attend your workshop and, given a chance, they would rather be back in their office checking emails and chasing deadlines. The atmosphere is cold. You are ready to play your wonderfully-planned ice-breakers to energise the group and to create a good start to your programme. Then you realise that you have not brought your bag of props. You have forgotten to pack them in your car, and it is sitting idling at home. You have absolutely nothing with you!


I am sure that, as an Instructor/trainer/facilitator/coach/student leader, there have been times when you needed to play some games but had no props with you. How you wished a game book could have been published on games that did not need props. I have been harbouring such a secret wish for the past 15 years as a trainer/ facilitator, and that is why I started collecting such ‘propless’ games, and, on many occasions, have shared them with my fellow facilitators.

This book is targeted at reaching out to all those in the same situation. I have loosely organised the games in this book into 12 different categories. To help you to identify the intensity of each game, I have classified them into three levels: Low, Medium and High.

Games can be categorised into several classes:


The name ‘ice-breakers’ comes from the term ‘breaking the ice’ and is used to describe games designed to ‘warm-up’ group members one to another. (The name may have been borrowed from a special type of ship called an ‘icebreaker’ which was used to fragment the ice that formed in the seas in the colder parts of the Northern hemisphere during the winter months. This was to ease the passage of merchant ships plying these routes as well as explorer ships that sailed in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans). Introduced usually at the start of a session, ice-breakers help group members to be more at ease with one another by getting them to interact in a fun and non-intimidating way.


‘Deinhibitisers’ are similar to ice-breakers except that they require participants to unveil more personal information about themselves or act in some comical ways. The idea is to get the group members to a higher level of comfort with one another.

Trust games

Trust games involve elements where members are required to rely, usually physically, on one another, hence creating trust among them. These games develop group bonding and a sense of team spirit, increasing members’ confidence about the capability of the group.

Team-effectiveness games

These are games which require team members to work together towards a common goal. These games are used to illustrate various elements of team effectiveness such as problem-solving, communication, leadership, teamwork, roles and responsibilities. It should be followed by reviews to reinforce and strengthen key learning points.

When facilitating a group of members who are total strangers to one another, it is recommended that the games be played in this sequence: ice-breakers, deinhibitisers, trust games and, finally, team-building games.

To help you to choose the right game for the occasion, there is an index near the end of the book that pegs each game to the different classes.

Do feel free to change the title of the games to suit the occasion or the theme of your workshop. At the same time, you are welcome to modify the games as necessary and invent new variations.

Finally, just a note. ‘Propless’ games do not mean that absolutely no props are involved. It just means that you are not required to prepare any props. A few of the games (such as ‘A-Z Hunt’ and ‘Changed’) involve using some props, except that the participants are the ones required to find the props using the things around them or on them.

I hope you will enjoy the book as much as I had in writing it. I hope the games will enrich your workshops and make your coaching more dynamic and exciting.

Have fun!!!

Allan Lee