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Four on the Couch

Team building games Relaxing games Icebreaker games Memory games


To have only your gender sitting on the couch.

If you don't have a couch large enough to fit four people, just designate four chairs as the "couch." Circle the rest of the chairs, with the couch include in the perimeter of the circle.

Divide the group into two teams, guys versus girls (if you have a larger number of one gender, someone will have to play for the other gender's team). Have them sit boy-girl-boy-girl in the chairs and on the couch, but leave the chair by to the left of the couch empty.

Have everyone write their name on a slip of paper, fold it up, and put it in a cup. Shake the cup and have everyone draw a name from the cup without letting anyone else see what it is. The name they have drawn from the cup is their name until they get a new one.

The person the to left of the empty chair calls out the name of someone sitting in the circle. The person who drew that name (NOT the person actually named that) sits in the empty chair and trades names with the person who just called them. Now there is an empty chair and the person to the left of the new empty chair calls out a different name. Play continues until only one gender (team) is sitting on the couch.

After a name has been called it cannot be called again until after a different name is called (e.g. if the person sitting next to the empty chair calls out "Tom", the next person to call out a name can't say "Tom" but the person after him can).

Example round:

Sally, who is holding the name "Mike", is sitting to the left of the empty chair. She calls out "Tom". Betty, who was sitting on the couch, has the name "Tom" and must sit in the empty chair, leaving an empty space on the couch. When Betty sits down, she and Sally trade names so that Sally now has "Tom" and Betty now has "Mike".

Mike, who is sitting on the couch to the left of the empty seat and has the name "Sue", cannot call the name "Tom" because it was just called. He wants to get a guy on the couch, so he calls the name "Cindy". Tom, who has the name "Cindy", goes and sits on the couch next to Mike. They trade names, so Mike now has the name "Cindy" and Tom now has the name "Sue".

Materials Needed

One chair for each person + one extra, one couch (optional)

Submitted by Tommy on 04 Feb 2009

Has this game been helpful?

24 Comments Add a comment »

love this game! also call it 4 on a pew, when using a pew. We have played this with our youth group over & over again, never gets old :)
Posted by thea on July 12, 2009 at 5:06 pm
I think you need to make the instructions more clear. I can't figure out how to play
Posted by kelli on July 13, 2009 at 12:46 pm
Um the part about picking until u get a new name is confusing. You were trying to say if you pick your own name, keep picking until you get a new one. The last part is also confusing I'm just going disregard it all together and not use it in my games.
Posted by Riley (girl) on August 8, 2009 at 2:51 pm
dont understand it =(
Posted by abel on August 29, 2009 at 10:02 pm
I know this as 'Kings and Queens' and there are 4 'thrones', rather than a couch. Kids of all ages seem to love it. Although we start with an easier version, where you don't swap names when moving to the empty seat. We find we lose people with the harder version you have described, because they can't keep track of what people's 'names' are.
Posted by Harriet on September 2, 2009 at 11:27 pm
thank u sooooooooooo much 4 this game!! 2day i lead worship in our youth group and i had this game in mind 4 us 2 play after the worship time.. and i couldn't remember the rules exactly!! thankss!! :D btw im from egypt and we're a christian band..!
God bless u!
Posted by anne alfred on September 14, 2009 at 7:54 am
mmmm...rules arent very clear, can u please specify them, obviously it sounds like fun and i want to play it with my youth group but the rules need 2 be a little more clear =) thank's =)
Posted by Lily on February 27, 2010 at 11:30 am
girls and boys sitting next to each other on the couch. Hmmm doesnt sound christian. Maybe all boys could play or all girls, no wait then we have the homosexual thing. hmm best christian thing to do never play any games. just read leviticus.
Posted by shane on May 27, 2010 at 1:29 am
This game was lots of fun but we played it with a group of about 40 people and it did not work. It took way too long and I ended up having to end the game. Good game but needs to be played in smaller groups.
Posted by Mick on September 3, 2010 at 10:40 am
yes a lil more clear pls
Posted by on November 12, 2010 at 3:35 am
lol to Leviticus!
Posted by Andrew on November 20, 2010 at 11:09 pm
haha this game looks interesting! i was hesitant at using the game because i wasn't sure how it would turn out but from the comments that im reading, it seems fun! i'll give it a go! more websites need to have user comments inside so that we can decide whether the game is fun or not with other people's opinions
Posted by moonshire on November 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm
if you never play any games with the youth then there is a possibility the youth group will never have fun lol besides whats the difference? guys and girls sit next to each other at church all the time and if you are having troubles in the youth with homosexuality then pray god will give you a message on preaching against it
Posted by use wisdom on November 29, 2010 at 4:11 pm
we played this at my sunday school class party and it was so much fun!
Posted by alex on March 1, 2011 at 11:04 am
this game is AWESOME, i know it sounds super complicated, but it is so much fun once you get into it
Posted by julia on April 4, 2011 at 7:30 am
Posted by sabrina on April 20, 2011 at 8:32 am
I played this game in primary school in a class of about 27.. it worked really well and would be one of the best games i've ever played. Once you get the hang of it, it can become a strategy game as well. Never fails to entertain..
Posted by =] on June 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm
I willmost definetly try this game i have a small group and please feel free to email me some icebreakers and activities i can use for my group thank u.
Posted by Delmarie on September 1, 2011 at 10:13 pm
This game is awesome... once you play it, it makes more sense... my kids caught on before I did... They loved it and still ask to play.
Posted by stephanie on September 19, 2011 at 9:56 am
@stephanie or anyone else that played this game did you have the kids swap names or just let them keep the name that they drew (the easier version) just wondering which one I should do?
Posted by Amy on July 27, 2012 at 7:00 am
Amazing Game! However, my church calls it "The Name Game"
Posted by TJ on October 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm
Here are more clear instructions from
Four On A Couch-Bench
This is the best game I have ever played. I love it. But it is very difficult and probably wouldn't work with groups of less than 12 people. The explanation is very long and involved, but DEFINITELY worth it.

This is essentially a memory game. The object of this game is to get 4 members of your team on the designated "couch" (or just a section of 4 chairs).

To start, have everyone sit down in a circle (incuding the 4 "couch" seats) alternating boy/girl/boy/girl. (If there are not enough of one gender, assign someone to join that group and make sure everyone knows... or pick a different qualifier such as seating them team A/then B/then A/then B. It will work as long as everyone knows who is on their team.) This means that two of the 4 designated seats on the couch belong to your team and two belong to the other. Remember the objective is to get the other team out of those seats and your members on.

So, how do you do that?

First, you write everyone's name on a card and have everyone pull a name out of a hat. Everyone has a different name in their hand (it doesn't matter if it is their own name). Once everyone is seated and has a name card you can start the game.

There should be one empty chair/place in the circle. Whoever is to the right of that empty place has the opportunity to ask someone to come sit next to him. The first couple people will just guess a name because they do not yet know who holds what name cards. Say the empty seat is next to you and you call the name Jeff... the person with the name Jeff on their card gets up... NOT the person whose name is actually Jeff. Once this "so-called Jeff" comes and sits next to you, you switch name papers. Now YOU have become Jeff and the person who sat next to you has the name you had (which only you know because no one has seen it but you).

Now everyone knows that You are Jeff. There is an empty space where the guy who just sat next to you used to sit. So the person to the right of the empty seat calls another name (Sarah). The person with that name on their card moves to that spot and switches cards with the caller. You now know that the caller's name is Sarah. You just keep doing this until eventually you call the name (on the card) of someone on the couch and they have to vacate their coveted position.

If the person to the right of the empty spot is on the couch, they will want call someone from their team up to join them. (they will have had to remember from before).

People in the circle will want to remember the name of an opposing team member on the couch, so that in case an empty seat opens up next to them, they can call someone off the couch. A person on the couch will want to remember their own team members' names so they can call someone on the couch.

Keep in mind however, that YOU may be called onto the couch and be required to remember your own team members' names as well since it will be up to you to call team members onto the couch.

The only rule of the game is that you can't call the same name twice in a row. Another note to remember if you are playing boy against girl is that it is the actual gender of the person HOLDING the card that counts, not the gender of the person whose name is on the card. Sarah may be called "Jeff" but she still counts for the girl's team on the couch.

I hope you can decipher those instructions, because it is a great game!
Posted by Krista on November 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm
Four on the Couch

The goal is to get 4 of your team onto the same couch. There must be one less seat than people in the room (must have a couch; you can play three on a couch if necessary). Divide into at least two teams and have everyone put their name in hat. Everyone draws a name and that becomes his/her new name for the game. But everyone should keep their names a secret. Now the person to the left of the empty seat in the room calls out a name. The person, who drew that name, now moves to the empty seat, and switches names with the person who called out the name. Now the person to the left of the new empty seat calls a name. You repeat the process. So you have to try to get to the empty the couch and call the right names to get folks on the couch. This takes some thinking but is fun and competitive in a non-athletic way.
Posted by KIDD_116 on April 4, 2014 at 2:43 pm
We used to play this with a German Christadelphian youth group and called it Parliament. I've been looking for ages for the rules - so thank you so much for these instructions. I'm going to try it with my primary classes tomorrow!
Posted by Abi on June 25, 2014 at 7:40 pm

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