How to Play Word Chains (A memory game for groups)

If you’re looking for a great group game to help keep everyone entertained, Word Chains will be an ideal pick. It’s especially ideal if you’re running a thematic party as the game is best played with themes in mind.

You can play Word Chains even if you don’t have any materials prepared, making it a good last-minute game for every occasion.

Features of the Word Chains Game

 ★  Game Name Word Chains
 ★  Group size small and medium
 ★  Age any
 ★  Type stationary
 ★  Skill memory
 ★  Place outdoor or indoor
★  Time up to 5 – 15 min
 ★  Preparation no
 ★  Materials no

The Aim of Game

Your goal when playing Word Chains is to have the players remember the words that the previous player has said.

As the game progresses, the word chains will become longer and more difficult to remember, so having a good memory is important in this game.

Group Size and Age

Word Chains is best played when you have groups of 4 to 10 players. The more players you have, the more difficult it may be to remember the word chains that have been formed.

You can play word chains with anyone from the age of 6 and up. This is also a great game to help build better vocabulary in children.

Preparation and Materials

The best part of preparing for word chains is that you won’t have to prepare anything except a timer and several themes to play around with. If needed, the host can also prepare a pen and paper to keep track of the word chain.

How to Play Word Chains?

To play Word Chains, you’ll first have to seat all your players in a circle. This helps to control the flow of how the words will be arranged. You can play this either in a clockwise or counterclockwise motion, but you cannot skip any players in between. Once your players are ready, you can now explain how to play Word Chains:

Step 1: Begin with giving your players a theme. For example, if your theme is “Pets”, then your players must say a word related to fruits such as “Dogs.”

Step 2: After the first player is done, the second player will then take over and repeat the first word from the player before them. They must then add a word that is relevant to the theme onto the chain. For instance, the second player will then say, “Dogs – Fish.”

Step 3: Repeat these steps for the subsequent players until someone forgets a word in the chain. When the chain comes back to the first player, they must repeat it from the beginning and repeat it in sequence, “Dogs – Fish – Cats, – Hamsters, …” and so on. 

Step 4: If someone in the chain forgets a word or doesn’t say the chain in the right sequence, they will be eliminated. The game then resets with a new theme. The winner is chosen when they remain as the last person in the group to recite the word chains.

Alternative Variations to Play Word Chains

Depending on the group you’re playing with, you can increase or decrease the difficulty of your word chain game. Here are some ways you can play the game differently:

  • Don’t stop the chain: Instead of resetting the chain every time someone forgets a word, simply eliminate them and have the next player continue from the chain. This creates a sense of confusion in some players as they may not be ready to add a new word to the chain. 
  • Do it alphabetically: If you’re playing with an older group, you may also have them add words alphabetically. For instance, if the first player says, “Apple,” then your second player must say, “Banana,” instead of “Orange.” This makes the game even more difficult to play as players not only have to remember the word chains but must also remember the words in alphabetical order.