‘The Category Game’

My informant AL is my classmate from the ANTH 333 course offered at USC.

Game: ‘The Category Game’

Rules: A group will stand or sit in a circle and go one by one listing different items of a category. People are eliminated if they cannot name an item in time or if they repeat an item. During the game, the players usually clap along or otherwise keep rhythm.

AL: “Like you’re in a circle and someone throws out a name or, you had to, someone would say ‘dog breed’ and everyone would have to throw out a different dog breed…We would usually play these games on a bus going to somewhere or waiting in line for something. It was a waiting game not like ‘oh let’s all do this right now’. It wasn’t the main focus.”

Game example:

P1: Category–types of fish

P2: Bass

P3: Salmon

P4: Mackerel

P5: Snapper

P1: Catfish

P2: [eliminated]

P3: Trout

P4: Clownfish

P5: [eliminated]

P1: Mahi Mahi

P3: Bass [eliminated]


P5: Barracuda [winner]


I am also familiar with this game. It is a fun way to pass the time, particularly on a bus. It also showcases the areas of knowledge of the players through their familiarization with the different answers other players give. For example, two players could realize that they are both very interested in a particular type of dog or have watched the same television show. The ‘category game’ was, therefore, a good game to find potential friends based on shared interests and conveniently was often played during beginning-of-the-year school trips when new students often met each other. The game also plays off the common technique of simply listing things in a group to hold off boredom. For example, trying to name all European countries while at the DMV to keep your brain active.