Knife, Baby, Angry Cat

Goal

To understand the passing and sharing of focus. To warmup and to build energy and shared goals.

Level of Difficulty:

Beginner

Participants:

Group Game

Instructions: 

First, let’s define the mechanics of the game. Similar to Red Ball, Thank You we will be passing and sharing focus.

To pass focus, we pass, or throw, a knife. To throw the (imaginary) knife, hold it by the blade. Make eye contact with the intended recipient and toss it over. Remember, these are imaginary, improv knives, nothing real.

The recipient catches the knife (a clapping motion is best) and then mimes moving the knife to their throwing arm, making eye contact with a new recipient, passes the knife to someone else.

We only ever pass the knife. And the knife is always imaginary.

After getting used to passing the knife, we can introduce a baby and and angry cat.

Baby. Upon receiving the knife (focus) from someone, you can choose to turn that knife into a baby. Cradle your arms as if a newborn is napping. Now, everyone else in the room should rush up to the person with the baby cooing and admiring the newborn. After a few moments, the person with focus can pass focus by tossing a knife (we don’t throw babies) to a new person.

Angry Cat. If we all want to coddle a newborn baby, we all want to avoid an angry, wet cat. Upon receiving focus, instead of tossing the knife to someone else, you can hold an angry cat, arms distance. Everyone else should try and get away from the cat, creating space away from the person. After a few moments, the person with the cat tosses a knife (we also don’t throw cats) to a new person.

Play for a few moments ensuring everyone has focus and exploring moving from close spaces (baby) to far spaces (cat) quickly and slowly.

For Remote Teams & Limited Mobility

We can’t actually get close to individuals, or further away, when remote. A few pointers for playing remote:

  • Name your recipient. In addition to looking into the camera, name the recipient of your knife throwing
  • Leverage your space. Just because we aren’t in a room together doesn’t mean you can’t use the full space displayed in the camera. Walk to the back of the room. Sit, stand, lean. Make it dynamic.

When playing with limited mobility (internal or external factors) how can we use our voices (excitement & fear) to indicate closeness (babies) and separation (angry cats)?

Practical Application:

It is common to work around a conference room table, either speaking across to one another or allowing a single person to facilitate an activity.

How does our behavior change when we are all gathered around a whiteboard (a baby) compared to letting someone else present their work and we stay away (angry cat)?

How does our awareness of space and its impact on our collaboration change how we engage with our peers?

When working remote, how can we use breakout sessions, digital whiteboards, and interactive elements to imitate closeness?

When collaborating across various abilities, how can we include others by empowering shared spaces?

Disclaimer

This game goes by many names. Knife, Baby, Gun is probably the most common however due to gun violence and shootings in public places, many of us have chosen a different third-item when moderating this activity.

See More General Warmup Games

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