For a circle, sitting in chairs, facing into the centre.
Introduce a simple beat of claps and clicks – clap, clap, click, click – over and over, inviting your group to practice this a few times.
Explain that one person will start by saying their name twice in sync with the claps, and then follow with saying the name of another person in the circle in sync with the clicks, eg “RUEBEN” (clap) “RUEBEN” (clap) “GILL” (left click) “GILL” (right click.)
The person whose name was called during the clicks must immediately resume the pattern of names by saying their name twice (on the claps) and saying the name of a new person twice (on the clicks.)
This process continues for as long as possible until someone makes an error, eg misses a beat or calls the wrong name.
The person who makes an error is invited to start the next round.
Provided the beat is maintained and names are correctly called, the fun will continue.
Play continues for 5 to 10 minutes.
How To Play Narrative
With your group preferably sitting in a circle, establish a beat by asking your group to mimic your movements of CLAP – CLAP (clap in front with two hands) CLICK – CLICK (click own fingers, one at a time, left then right.)
Practice this a few times, maintaining a constant beat – CLAP – CLAP – CLICK – CLICK – CLAP – CLAP – CLICK – CLICK, and so on.
Next, explain that on the claps, one person at a time will say their own name twice, that is, they say their own name on each clap. And then, on the clicks, this same person will call out the name of another person sitting in the circle twice, so that with each click the name is called.
For example, starting with me as an example, it may sound like this “RUEBEN” (clap) “RUEBEN” (clap) “GILL” (left click) “GILL” (right click.)
OK, this next bit is where it gets tricky, and will move people to the edge of their seats.
The rule is, the person belonging to the name called with the clicks restarts the process immediately. And in the spirit of the game, I do mean immediately – in keeping with the beat.
In a perfect world, there will be no surprises, fumbles or stutters as names keep pace.
Continuing the example, Gill will quickly resume with “GILL” (clap) “GILL” (clap) and then call a new person’s name with her clicks, such as “TREVOR” (click) “TREVOR” (click). Which is Trevor’s cue to wake up, clap and click, etc.
Give your group a few mulligan rounds, and then start in earnest. Provided the beat is maintained and names are correctly called, the fun continues.
All ‘errors’ earn a hearty round of applause and laughter. The person who erred starts over.
Repeat until the level of name-knowingness has peaked.
Practical Leadership Tips
Clearly, the game is well named, as concentration is certainly a prerequisite to continuing the play for as long as possible. And it’s a learned skill – concentration for extended periods of time does not come easily to young people.
In the beginning, you will want to keep the pace of the beat rather slow, about two beats per second. As the group warms up, feel free to step on the accelerator.
Apart from struggling with memory loss, often the hardest part of this exercise is to hear the names called out over the din of the clapping and clicking. Remind people to keep their voices loud.
Beyond thirty people, you are well advised to break into smaller circles of 10 to 15 people, lest you risk boring people whose names never get called.
Slap-Slap: Substitute the clap for slaps on knees or thighs, ie SLAP – SLAP – CLICK – CLICK, etc.
Elimination: When someone makes an error, they are invited to assume a new role as they leave the circle – a heckler. Their primary objective is to put other players off their game, without touching them or obscuring their view.
Words Only: Require only that names be called, with no claps or clicks. This routine works well, but it may not seem as much fun without the group beats.
Depose the Leader: When someone makes a mistake, this person moves into the seat directly to the left of the person who started (the ‘leader,’) while everyone between this point and the seat of the person who erred moves up one seat. Everyone aims to progress around the circle to eventually sit in the seat of the ‘leader.’
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Useful Framing Ideas
I don’t know about you, but I frequently find myself working very hard to remember names, long after I have known someone. My worst nightmare is when I have to recall a name very quickly, without notice. If this sounds like you, then you’re going to struggle in this next concentration exercise…
One of the most powerful skills to learn is focus or concentration. To focus or concentrate on one thing for a long period of time is a skill learned with practice. For sure, it is easier to focus when you are engaged, but learning how to concentrate for extended periods of time when you are not so engaged is a difficult task to master. Perhaps this next exercise will provide a little practice for you…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this fun name-game:
What was the most difficult part of this game?
Did your stress levels go up at any time? When, and why?
What strategies did you use to keep in the game for as long as possible?
What did you say to yourself when you messed up the rhythm or a name?
The inspiration for Concentration, and many more fun group name-games, was sourced in the following publication (now out of print:)