Build Your Employees' Creativity With "Escape The Sinking Ship"

8 July 2016
 Categories: , Blog


If you are looking for a way to teach your employees new creative skills (such as flexibility and originality), this simple team building game is one intriguing option. It will challenge their skills, teach them how to work together, and help everyone have some fun.

Items Necessary For This Game

This game requires a really good sense of storytelling, including a few simple story starters, that can help focus your employees into new personal roles. It also requires a few simple items that are absolutely necessary for this exercise.

  • Fifty sheets of one-foot square pieces of plywood
  • Various colors of paint (the colors don't matter much, but should be simple and easy to tell apart)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Rope
  • Flashlights
  • Buckets
  • Strips of blue felt
  • Strips of red felt

Painting The Plywood

You and your employees will now take a few hours to paint the sheets of plywood to suit the game. Basically, the tiles need to be painted in such a way that they create a ship when laid side-by-side on the ground. You should include exterior details as well as painting the following tiles:

  • Engine room (4 x 4 room)
  • Escape hatch (one tile)
  • Hallways (one tile wide)
  • Lifeboats (no more than five)
  • Dark areas (about 10 or so)
  • Ladder squares (four to seven)

You can create any other rooms you like, such as steering areas, making sure that they match painting jobs and fit together in an understandable way. This will stretch the creative skills of your workers and force them to think even more outside of the box.

Executing The Game

After your tiles are ready, you can start the game. You need to write a story that indicates what will happen during the game, such as when the ship will start to flood and where fires will spread. The fire should always start in the engine room and move out from there. The story is more of a basic sketch than an absolute, as things will change as the game progresses.

Start by laying the exterior tiles of the ship first, leaving the interior blank. Then, each person playing gets to lay one tile in the interior, making sure it is touching an exterior tile first. They must match tile types, such as placing engine room tiles next to engine room tiles. You should also scatter various items throughout the ship, including the rope, buckets, and flashlights.

Once the whole ship is built, all players must move to spots you have determined in the story. Then, you move through the story as your employees try to slow the sinking ship and get to the escape hatch and lifeboats. Players can move one square each turn and perform one act with one item. For example, they could move into a room with fire (indicated by red felt) and put it out with a bucket. They can also use a flashlight to escape a dark room or a rope to help a fellow escapee move two squares.

After each turn, you are going to increase the spread of the blue felt, which represents water, by placing it in areas in your story where it is flooding. You also spread random fires throughout the map as the game progresses. If a player is in a room with fire or water, they die and must leave the game.

Winning The Game

Players must work together up through the ship (using "ladder" squares to move between floors) and up to the escape hatch. Then, they must step on the lifeboat squares before 50% of the tiles are covered with water and fire. Anyone not on a lifeboat tile at this point loses.

There is a lot to this game, and it will challenge your employees creativity and teamwork. However, playing it several times throughout the summer (it is a great outdoor game) will help build a tighter and more cohesive workplace.

For more information about team building games, contact a company like Houdini’s Room Escape.