Games Ideas Projects

Card Sorting to Brain-cleansing Games


About Card Sorting

Card sorting is an exercise in user experience design where a group of users sort cards with various words on them into categories. It is often used to determine a website map or to test the language of product, so the cards’ words would be things like “Pricing”, “Testimonials”, or “Tour”.

About Brain-cleansing

I recently did something like card sorting with a client, but less structured. The terms on my cards were very random, anywhere from “Beyonce” to “corn” to “Trust”. Each of us in the meeting grabbed a handful of cards and spent a few minutes organizing them in any way that made sense.

This gave me the idea to design “Brain-cleansing” games (horrible name, I know). They would be simple exercises that help you break down creative barriers and allow thoughts to flow more freely – a solution for writers block or if you are stuck on a bug in your code. Clear your mind with one or two rounds then return to your work. Here is the first I’ve come up with (basically lnfnmo):

Brain Cleanse game #1: Left & Right

  1. Gather/prepare these things:
    • A deck of 20 cards (download some). I taped mine to playing cards for easier handling.
    • Some sort of divider, like a chopstick or a pencil.
    • A timer if playing alone (optional).
  2. Choose two cards without looking at them.
  3. Turn both over and place one on the left side of the divider and one on the right. Leave a few card lengths between the card and the divider. Like this:
  4. Next, pick up the rest of the cards, words down.
  5. If playing alone, set a timer for how long you think it will take you to sort the cards. If playing with someone else, see who can sort their cards the fastest.
  6. Start the timer. Take a card from the pile and decide if it goes on the left or right. Try to arrange them in a spectrum, like this:
  7. Repeat the above until you are out of cards.
  8. Make it more interesting:
    • If you are playing with a friend, have them play a round with your cards and compare results.
    • Create a sheet of pictures to play with instead of words.
    • You tell me…


You want to try it out, right? Well, lucky for you I have prepared a few sheets of terms, download them here (same as what I linked to above). In the folder you will find a set of celebrity names, nouns, and capitalized adjectives.