Virtual Team Building Events

Activity Description

Clever or Stupid or Dead or Alive Game

Clever or Stupid is an interesting lateral-thinking team building exercise which can also be used as a time-filler. Clever or Stupid is a puzzle styled activity that requires the teams to work out a ‘secret key.’  Clever or Stupid stimulates critical-thinking and listening skills. No props are needed.

Benefits of Clever Clever or Stupid or Dead or Alive Activity

  • Promotes critical-thinking
  • Encourages listening skills
  • Creating metaphors
  • Simple ‘What’s The Key?’ variation
  • No props

How to Play Clever or Stupid or Dead or Alive

This is one of those many puzzle type games using ‘What’s the Key’. The group is encouraged to find a ‘secret key’, but it’s never as simple as it sounds. Just as the proverb states, “truth is obvious to those who know it”.    

Gather the group together in whatever way is comfortable; you can get them to stand, sit or walk together. As long as they can all hear each other you are ready to start.   

Explain to the group that they all have a job, and that is for them to identify the ‘key,’ which will be able to unlock the mystery to the game. The elimination of people from the group will be the “key” specific to this game.  

Inform the group that you are going to point your finger at different people within the group.  Their task will be to guess whether that person is dead or alive.  

Have a trial run, to begin with, point to a certain individual, then wait for a second or two, and then ask the group if that individual is dead or alive.

This is the “key”: If you start with the words “Is (say person’s name) Dead or Alive”?  Then the correct answer will always be “Dead”.  However, if you ask the same question any other way, then the correct answer will always be “Alive”.

In order to understand the game and get the correct answer, the group needs to pay careful attention to your words. They must be aware of what you say straight after you have pointed to a specific individual. As the group has a 50/50 chance to guess the correct answer, the aim will obviously be to get the correct answer as many times as possible. In other words, players must get one correct answer after the other to make it effective.

If you observe that some of the group has still not cottoned on to what the “key” is, give them some clues. A clue can be; you point at the same person two or three times, but ensure you change the question each time.

In order to keep the group motivated, tell them the whole group will have the correct answer or ‘key’ within 10 minutes. 

Whenever someone gets the ‘key’ correct, applaud them. When someone fails to get the ‘key,’ encourage them by allowing them to carry on and keep trying.

You will certainly have a lot of puzzled looks to start with, but as you progress you will find one after the other catching on. Now would be a good time to offer some clues, by putting more emphasis on the questions.  

You can continue playing the game until everyone has been successful in unlocking the ‘key.’

Make sure you use the Leadership Tips below to bring out the lessons you learnt during the exercise. 

Contextual Framing Ideas

Once again we refer to the proverb “truth is obvious to those who know”. This saying sums up this activity, because if you don’t know what’s going on, then you might feel like you are the most unintelligent person in the group. As you begin to present the game to the group, the answer will be clear to some of them straight away. However, most of them won’t catch on immediately. If you fall into this last group, you might feel a bit foolish and will want to switch off. Don’t stress, for if you hang in there, you will find the ‘key.’   

If you have, at any time, experienced this game in the past, you will recall the fun and laughter. You will also remember how you felt when you were not able to solve the mystery immediately. 

Clever or Stupid or Dead or Alive Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Gather your group together, so that they are all able to hear each other clearly.
  • The aim of the game is for everyone to recognize the ‘key,’ which will be able to unlock the mystery of the game.
  • Tell the group that you will now start and point your finger at any one person in the group. The rest of the group must try and guess if that person is dead or alive.
  • The ‘key’ is: When you say the words “Is (say the person’s name) Dead or Alive”? The correct answer is always “Dead”. However, if you ask the exact same question, but in a different way, then the correct answer will always be ‘Alive’.
  • As they have a 50/50 chance of being correct, the main aim of the game would be to guess the answer correctly more than once straight after each other.
  • When someone answers correctly congratulate them, and for those who are struggling to find the ‘key,’ help them by encouraging them.
  • You can play the game until everyone has found the ‘key’, giving the group more clues as you progress.

Facilitators and Leaders Tips

This game can be played to keep your group occupied as you all sit around the campfire, travelling on a bus or hiking from one place to another.

This exercise requires the participants to think-outside-of- the-box, which promotes creative thinking. All the participants need to look past the obvious and consider other options. There are numerous associations that exist from this activity, which we can apply in the real world around us. One example is; the connection of finding the ‘key’ is very elusive, but it does influence the final solution. In a very similar way, the elusive looks and gestures of a group in a classroom can have a meaningful influence on each pupil’s learning experience.            

Please beware that the creative thinking this exercise promotes, should not at any time, frustrate the participants taking all the fun out of it. This game is designed to be enjoyed and therefore should not be played for longer than 10 to 15 minutes. So, in order to remove any frustration, you should continually provide clues until the whole group has found the ‘key.’

In order to keep the game exciting, you should tell your group that when they have discovered the ‘key,’ they should refrain from sharing it with those who are still looking for it. This will allow them to solve the puzzle for themselves. Provide a little bit of encouragement by informing them they will all get the ‘Key’ within 15 minutes.

This method is far better, which allows the group to find the solution on their own, rather than giving them the answer. Also, if someone tells their neighbour the answer, this will not help them in any way, as they may feel they were unable to solve the mystery for themselves.  

Be assured that within every group there will be some individuals that hate the idea of creative thinking, and will try to shy away from the challenge. These are usually the people who have had some bad experiences in the past. They may have done this before and battled for hours to solve the puzzle. Therefore, there will always be someone who will want to ‘check-out’ of this challenge, so take note of the remarks below:   

  • Be cautious of what you say when you are presenting the game to your group, and take note of 2 vital factors in this regard:                                                                

-The main aim of the exercise is to recognize what the ‘key’ is, and has nothing to do with whoever you point your finger at. The whole exercise should hone in on their listening skills and make them more aware of detail.

– Make absolutely certain that everyone knows that they will all solve the puzzle in a very short time. This is vital if you are to hold the interest of those in the group that struggle with this sort of mystery or puzzle activities.

  • Under no circumstances must you present more than 2 of these types of puzzle games in succession, as no one really appreciates a second mystery game when they were unable to solve the first one.

Debriefing and Reflection Strategies

Here are some questions to ask the group, which will help them to process their experience of playing the game ‘Dead or Alive.’

  • How long did it take you to work out the solution?
  • What did you feel like when you were one of the last to solve the mystery?
  • Did you ever feel like this before? Did it have a positive solution?
  • What does this challenge teach you about being part of a group as well as recognizing individual differences?

Variations of Clever or Stupid or Dead or Alive

  • Alternative Keys: Use different words like “OK, Who Just Died?” and then start with the names of your group in alphabetical order. Or you may first start selecting the people in the group wearing a certain colour of clothing.
  • There is also the game ‘Bang, You’re Dead,’ which also includes the idea of selecting a ‘dead’ person.

Clever or Stupid or Dead or Alive Game Team Building Activity

Basic Details
Property Type : Team Building
Listing Type : Placeholder
Activity Type : Team Building
Focus On : Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Having Fun, Problem Solving
Outcome Based : Yes
Facilities : Indoor, Outdoor
Props Required : None
Duration : 16 - 25 minutes
Exertion Level : Low
Group Size : 1 - 8, 9 - 16, 17 - 30, 31+
Age : Youth, Adults