Icebreaker Game: Count-Off

Posted by Doc
Apr 19 2009

I don’t know if this game has another name, nor where it comes from originally.  I learned it in ThoughtWorks Immersion in Pune, India in July of 2008. If anyone knows the origin, let me know. Mostly I call it the 5/7 game, but have decided to give it a more official-sounding name. 🙂


Have the entire group stand in a circle (or any geometric shape in which they can all see each other). Standing is important. If you have someone who cannot stand – someone wheelchair-bound, for example – they can play as long as they have a way to turn in a circle in place.


We’re going to count off, starting at one and going around the circle clockwise, each person saying their number aloud. Just to be clear, the first person says “one”, the second person says “two”, and so on.

When you say a number that is a multiple of five, you clap your hands.  Yes, that includes five and ten and so on.

When you say a number that is a multiple of seven, you turn around in place. No, it doesn’t matter which direction you turn in, so long as you turn around. So that includes seven and fourteen and twenty-one and so on.

When you say a number that is a multiple of both five and seven, do both things – clap and turn.

Is everyone clear?

Now, if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do – clap or turn – or you do what you’re not supposed to do, you’re “out” and you step out of the circle – you can sit down or whatever you like, as long as you don’t interfere with the game.

If we’re not sure whether someone did or didn’t do something, the group as a whole will decide.  We’ll see when we come to it.


Notes for the Facilitator

There will be some things that will likely come up:

  • “Oh, I didn’t know I was supposed to do BOTH things!” (on 35)
  • Lots of laughter
  • When the group gets down to seven people, the seventh person will be turning around every time around the circle, and turning and clapping every fifth time around the circle
  • When the group gets down to five people, the fifth person will be clapping every time around the circle, and…
  • If someone is a little late with clapping or turning, let the group decide whether they’re out or still in
  • Having something – some little trophy or toy – to recognize the winner is fun – let them hold it either until the end of the event, or until the next game/round (I’ve done more than one in longer events, because it’s so much fun and the first round is very short for some people)

Personally, I’ve never been in a group that got higher than 80-something.  And that was getting pretty challenging. Feel free to play or not as you choose. If I play, I don’t throw the game.

With a large group (the largest I’ve done it with is about 25), it can take a while.  And it’s worth it.  The ones who get eliminated keep up the spirit, rooting for their favorites, taunting their friends, and helping to decide on the close calls.

3 Responses

  1. Anand says:

    I remember playing this game as a kid in India. We used to call it Fizz Buzz. Apparently there are multiple versions of it called Bizz Buzz etc..

    Here is a wikipedia entry

    We used to mostly play it in school to memorize maths tables.

  2. aretae says:

    We called it Crash Boom Bang in 5th grade : 3,4, and 5 … but after a bunch of us were finding it too easy…we added some more: 7-Splat 11-Squish 13-Kaboom.

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