Kim's Game

Kim's Game

Game type

Observation and memory.


The game develops a person's capacity to observe and remember details. The name is derived from Rudyard Kipling's 1901 novel Kim, in which the hero, Kim, plays the game during his training as a spy. This is a very flexible game with endless permutations to cater to different numbers, objectives and difficulty.

Time required

10 to 30 Mins (varies according to group size)

Size of group

1 to many

Group size is only restricted by the creativity of the game master!


  1. To develop observation skills.
  2. To develop memory capacity and accuracy.

Material required

  1. 1 table or tray (large enough to display the items clearly)
  2. 1 cloth or tarp (large enough to cover all the items displayed)
  3. Collection of 15 random items or more (may use photos instead of actual items too!)
  4. Stopwatch
  5. Writing materials for each participant


  1. Start by laying out all the items on a table or tray, out of sight of the participants. Keep the items separated but closely packed.
  2. Use the cloth or tarp to cover all the items before participants are allowed to see them.
  3. Invite the participants to sit or stand in a circle around the table.
  4. Brief the participants that you are about to remove the cloth, revealing the items. They will then have exactly 1 minute to observe and remember as many items as they are able to. At the end of one minute you will cover the items with the cloth again.
  5. Participants will then be given another minute to individually write down as many items as they can remember.
  6. The one who can remember the most wins the game!

Sample debriefing pointers

  1. Are there any methods or techniques for remembering the items? Encourage participants to try out different memory techniques.
  2. How did the patrol's strategy impacted their performance?

Safety issue

If activity involves movement or running, flat surfaces and no trip hazards should be ensured.


There are endless permutations of the game from using a projector to screen the items to large number of participants to changing the game environment, number of items, game procedures or even it the goal of the game itself! The following are some of the potential variations that the patrols may attempt.

  1. Team based Kim's game
    • Instead of asking the participants to write down the items individually, they may record the items as a team (Increase the number of items according to the number of participants). This can be played as an individual patrol challenge or inter patrol competition. Large number of items also allow for patrols to develop strategies to increase their performance.
  2. Colour and details variations
    • To increase the difficulty of the game, similar items with different colours can be included. Participants will then have to specify not only the item but also the colour when there are two similar items in different colours.
    • Similarly items with details like wordings or logos can also be used to increase the difficulty of the game. This may also be use as bonus questions that individuals or patrols who answer correctly may score more points.
  3. Spatial Kim's game
    • Instead of merely writing down the items in a list, participants may also be asked to draw a simple diagram stating the locations of the respective item on the table.
    • larger area versions of the spatial Kim's game can also be conducted in a classroom. Scatter items all over the classroom and allow for patrols 3-5 minutes to move around to spot the items. At the end of the given time, patrols will exit the room and as team reproduce the items in map and list, stating the item, its details and location within the room. Alternatively, the game master may also rearrange or switch out certain items in the room then ask the patrol to reenter the room and spot the differences.
  4. Challenging environment variation
    • Instead of sitting or standing around the items before the game master reveal the items. Participants may be asked to form a circle and have to start walking in a clockwise/ counter clockwise motion before the reveal and during the observation time. movement during their observation period will make it more challenging for the participants to concentrate.
    • Aside from movement, changes to the environment can also be introduced. Simple methods like darkening the room or having the game master interrupting and distracting the participants with loud sound and lights can also be part of the game.
  5. Inter patrol Kim's game race
    • Patrols will line up behind a starting line and the items place 10 to 15 meters away on a table.
    • The game master will then start the stopwatch with a blow of a whistle, where one member of the patrol will run towards the table to observe the items.
    • Every 30 seconds the game master will blow the whistle, signalling the participant at the table to run back to his/her patrol and tag another patrol member to run towards the table for observation.
    • This will carry on until all the patrol members have at least one opportunity to observe the items.
    • Patrols are then given 1 minute to write down the items they observe.
    • Patrol with most number of items listed correctly wins.