The Categories Game With Letters: Rules & How to Play

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Tired of playing Charades again and again and looking for something new? The Categories game is a great game where you put your general knowledge and quick thinking to the test. Come up with the most unique and creative words to beat your friends!

In this game, you’ll compete individually against other players by writing down words belonging to several categories. All these words must start with the same letter for that round. If your words are unique and not written down by others, you score points!

It’s perfect for when you’re looking for a fun competitive game that stimulates the brain. Its openness to all player’s input makes every round unique, keeping you entertained for quite a while!

Your Game Information

Number of Players: 3+

Equipment: pens and paper, timer

Duration: 10-30 minutes

Area: indoor

Tabletop: yes

Drinking: no

How to Play The Categories Game

One big advantage of this game is that you don’t require much equipment. The only thing you’ll need are pieces of paper, pens, and a timer.

It’s useful to have a random letter generator, but you can also just randomly pick a letter for each round.

Setting Up

Before you can start playing the game, there are some preparations steps to be taken. Here’s how it goes:

  • Each player receives a piece of paper and a pen.
  • For one game, you pick five categories with which you’ll play.
  • Everyone draws a table with these five categories in the first row
    • Alternatively, you can download our free categories table below.
  • Each column stands for one category.
  • One player sets a one-minute timer.
  • (Optional) Open or download a random letter generator.

The image above shows what the categories game table should look like. Instead of making it yourself, you can also download and print our free categories table.

Categories Game Rules

To start playing, simply draw or announce a random letter. This letter should be revealed at the moment the timer starts.

All players then try to think of one word starting with that letter for each category, subsequently writing it down.

As soon as the timer stops, all players put down their pen after which the counting of points begins.

One player takes the lead in announcing what they have written for that category. For example: Player one says “For category insects, I had caterpillar.” The player to their left then states their word, followed by the next player etcetera.

Whenever two or more players have matching words, they line through that word to indicate that it’s invalid. If you have a word that no one else has, you score a point for that word.

The image below shows an example. ‘Cockroach’ and ‘Carrot’ were written down multiple times, meaning they don’t count for any points. The other three words are unique and count for one point each.

After that, the starting player announces the word they have for the second category, followed by the other players. This continues until all categories and words have been announced. Everyone then fills in their total number of points for that round in the last column.

After the first round, you again set the timer and draw a random letter for round two. This continues for at least five rounds. To keep the game varied and maximally entertaining, we advise to switch to different categories after five to ten rounds.

The player with the highest total score after all rounds wins the game!

Categories Ideas List

To get you started, we provide you with a list of categories ideas below. Alternatively, you can always come up with your own categories. This can be even more fun when you and your friends all have a movie or hobby that you know all about.

  1. Fruits
  2. Countries
  3. Colors
  4. Animals
  5. Movies
  6. Musical Instruments
  7. Famous Authors
  8. Capital Cities
  9. Sports
  10. Shapes
  11. Cartoon Characters
  12. Car Brands
  13. Breakfast Foods
  14. Famous Landmarks
  15. Flowers
  16. Board Games
  17. Types of Dance
  18. Historical Figures
  19. Kitchen Utensils
  20. TV Shows
  21. Celebrities
  22. Insects
  23. Types of Music
  24. Books
  25. Clothing Brands
  26. Sea Creatures
  27. Vegetables
  28. Hobbies
  29. Types of Weather
  30. Fictional Characters

Wrap Up

The Categories Game never gets boring because it’s competitiveness and requires you to think quick. Games that require your own creative input are in our opinions always fun to play.

Whether you’re at your yearly family dinner or just hanging out with friends, these games are always a blast.

The Fishbowl Game is another good example of a competitive and engaging game that will keep you entertained for quite a while. It’s a great party game where you both describe and act outs words to your team within a certain amount of time. Definitely worth a shot!

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