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The Unfair Game

~ From the book “104 Activities That Build” ~

Sometimes life can really seem unfair! For some unfortunate people, life may seem even more unfair than for others.

This game is unfair, but don’t tell that to those who are playing until it is all over because who would want to play a game if they knew the leader had set it up so s/he would win.

When the game is unfair, people may not get angry, but in real life many people who feel their life is unfair or who have trouble following the rules will have a lot to talk about at the end of this game.

The Unfair Game is another one of the favorites at the Therapeutic Activities and Games workshops and has been used by many of the people who have learned it as a part of varying diverse anger management programs.


For individuals to practice using anger control when in a situation that is clearly unfair and frustrating.


People who have difficulty controlling their anger. People who become easily frustrated when a situation does not go in their favor.

Group Size

3 to 15 participants


Deck of cards

Pair of dice

Bag of candy (each piece should be individually wrapped) – about 5 pieces per person

Copies of the rules (found below)


It is important to read ALL the directions to this game prior to playing it with your group.

Prior to the activity take all but a couple of the spades out of the deck of cards and mix the few spades left towards the top of the deck. If possible have two identical decks of cards and replace the spades with cards from a different suit from the spare deck.

Start by gathering the group into a circle and by giving everyone five pieces of candy. Inform the group that they will be able to keep whatever candy they have at the end of the game (and candy may not be eaten until the end). Have a few copies of the rules out on the table for players to refer to during the game (found below; you may want to read them before continuing on). It is also important that you – the leader – participate in the game.

Either set a time limit or end the game when a few people are eliminated or when the pot is filled with a bunch of candy. At the end of the time limit select the person with the best sportsmanship. Of course this person is you – the leader – (since this is the Unfair Game), so you select yourself and take all the candy left in the middle.

The idea is to make sure this game is truly unfair, just as life can often be. It is often our tendency to pass out candy to everyone at the close of a game like this. Resist this temptation in order for the game to have a stronger effect. Keep it for a later day or another game! To heighten the effect you may wish to reveal the truth about the deck of cards if they don’t figure out that the deck is stacked against them.

Also don’t tell them that this is called “The Unfair Game” until the end; just call it the “Candy Game” or something else so they don’t catch on until the game is over.

Discussion Prompts

1. Was this game unfair? Why or why not?

2. How do you feel right now?

3. Do you ever feel like you life is unfair? If so, when and how do you handle it when things seem unfair?

4. Do you think it would help you in your own life to change how you act when life seems unfair? If so, how?

Rules of the Game

1. When it is your turn you may roll the dice or select a card

2. If you roll the dice and get:

Odd – you must put a piece of candy in the “pot” (a place in the middle of the table)

Even – you take a piece of candy from anyone else’s pile

Double – You must give a piece of candy to someone else in the group (this does not count as an even number)

3. If you draw a card and get:

Heart – you must give a piece of candy to the person on your right

Club – you must give a piece of candy to the person on your left

Diamond – you must put a piece of candy in the pot

Spade – you get two pieces of candy from the pot (or from a person/s of your choice if the pot is empty)

4. If anyone is unfortunate enough to lose all of their candy, they are then eliminated from the game.

5. If you are eliminated from the game you may continue to sit in the circle but can return to the game only if someone gives you a piece of candy during the course of the game (no candy may be given to an eliminated person out of the goodness of you heart; it must be determined by the cards or dice).

6. The leader decides who displayed the best sportsmanship during the game, and this person gets to keep all the candy left in the pot at the end of the game.

7. After an allotted time the person who has the most candy wins, and everyone may keep any candy they have acquired.

Anger Choice

~ From the book “The wRECking Yard of games and activities” ~

Some people explode when they are angry while others keep things inside and let their anger eat at them. Some people get boiling hot and some people get ice cold. From one extreme to the other, it is important for group members to look at themselves and recognize how they handle their anger. This activity helps the group members become aware of the choices that they make. That understanding moves everyone a step closer to making good, healthy choices.


For people to recognize ways that they handle their anger and to open up conversation about appropriate ways to handle anger.


People who don’t understand their anger and how to deal with it appropriately.

Group Size

1 or more




Read the following list of choices to the group and ask participants to choose the one that they feel fits them best. Designate a place to stand for each choice (i.e. one side of the room for choice A and the other side for choice B).

After each choice is read and participants make their choices, ask them to explain why they chose what they chose. Then get the group back together and go on to the next set of choices.

When you are angry are you most like…

A. Shaken can of soda pot B. A cup of coffee

A. Lake B. Ocean

A. Hammer B. Nail

A. Swimmer B. Hockey Player

A. Flute B. Trumpet

A. Steak B. Hamburger

A. Tiger B. Kitty cat

A. Lava B. Avalanche

Discussion Prompts

1. Why did you pick your response?

2. Do you think the other people in the group made correct choices?

3. Do you think that your choice is really the best choice?


Designate four areas in the room for choices a, b, c, or d. Read the situations (found below) and ask participants to choose how they would react to the situation.

Situation Choices

1. You friend breaks your favorite pair of very expensive sunglasses. You…

a. Say “It’s Okay it was an accident.”,
b. Yell at him/her and make sure s/he feels bad.
c. Break his/her sunglasses.
d. Make him/her pay for them.

2. Your friend is supposed to be at your house at 7:00 and doesn’t show up until 8:00 and gives you no excuse. Inside you feel very upset and hurt. You…

a. Act like it doesn’t bother you and let it go.
b. Act like you just got ready and were running late also.
c. Tell your friend that you made other plans and would have to cancel.
d. Ask your friend to explain why s/he is late and then express your feelings.

3. Someone that you know very well tells you that your shirt is really ugly and teases you about how much weight you have gained lately. You…

a. Swear at him/her and make fun of him/her.
b. Ignore him/her and walk away.
c. Tell the person that the comment was rude, that you didn’t appreciate it and that it hurt your feelings.
d. Punch the person in the face and tell him/her to “shut up.”