The metaphor game

The metaphor game

What is it?

Metaphors are figurative language tools that compare two unlike things to evoke emotion and create a deeper understanding of a concept or idea. They're powerful—they can transcend language and cultural barriers and tap into universal human experiences and symbols, making messages accessible to a broader and more diverse audience. But they can be challenging for beginners. Jack Hart's metaphor game offers a playful and accessible approach to unlocking the magic of metaphors.

In this game, participants are encouraged to venture beyond the ordinary, making connections that might initially seem unrelated. Here's how it works: Take two seemingly unrelated ideas and seek common ground to create a metaphor. For instance, imagine pairing "book" with "journey." From there, let your creativity flow as you brainstorm connections. "A story unfolds," "each chapter brings something new," or even "life is a book, and each page is a new adventure."

This process enhances creative thinking and expands one's ability to make abstract connections, making it a valuable tool for writers, designers, and problem solvers looking to inject fresh perspectives and creativity into their work. Over time, you’ll find that your mental associations become more diverse and expansive and you’ll get better at drawing connections between seemingly unrelated things in various aspects of life.

      When to use it

      1. To exercise your metaphorical thinking muscles and become more adept at making creative and meaningful connections between ideas.
      2. As a warm-up exercise before tackling more significant creative tasks, helping you overcome initial creative blocks.
      3. As a team building activity to kick-off a new project and encourage creative thinking.

      Remember to:

      1. Don't limit yourself to obvious or literal connections between your chosen concepts. Instead, let your imagination run wild.
      2. After creating metaphors using the game, take the time to reflect on your choices. Consider how well they convey the intended message or concept. Are they vivid and engaging? Do they enhance understanding?

      How it works


      Define the objective: Determine the purpose of the scavenger hunt and what you hope to achieve by doing it. Are you looking to spark creativity, build teamwork, or improve communication skills? Identifying the objective will help guide the rest of the planning process.


      Choose a location: Select a location that offers a diverse range of design elements to explore. This could be a city center, a museum, a shopping district, or any other location with an abundance of design inspiration.


      Create a list of items: Define a set number of items that can be found within the allotted time. These items should be diverse in nature and can include anything from advertisements and signage to architecture and nature.


      Set a time limit: Determine the amount of time allotted for the scavenger hunt. This can range from a few hours to a full day, depending on the complexity of the items and the location.


      Gather tools: Get what you need to document findings, such as cameras, notebooks, post-its, and pens.


      Divide into teams: Divide participants into teams of two or more, depending on the size of the group. Encourage participants to work together and share their insights and ideas.


      Review and share: At the end of the scavenger hunt, gather everyone together to review the findings and share insights. This is a great opportunity for participants to learn from each other and discover new ideas.

      Remember that this activity can be done solo as well, just adapt to suit your individual goals and interests. It's also a great opportunity to partner with other designers in your area for a team-building and/or networking activity.