Additional Setup Notes
- It’s best to have a designated player count how many questions have been asked while the group takes turns guessing the mystery topic. With each player’s round, take turns having someone keep a tally of questions.
20 Questions is the perfect game for a small group of friends looking to pass the time. It requires no supplies or intense preparation, making it the prime game for long road trips, game nights, or even waiting in line. 20 Questions is a guessing game based around elimination and narrowing down options by asking a series of yes or no questions.
Select a player to go first by choosing either the oldest or youngest in the group. This person who becomes “it” will think of a person, place, or thing as their topic. Think generally when brainstorming, that way it can be realistically guessed. Tupac, London, or Textbook are all examples of possible mystery topics.
After the person who is it has chosen their mystery topic, the person to their right may begin by asking the first question. Predictably, only 20 questions are allowed to be asked before the round ends. After the first player asks a question, players will take turns asking yes or no questions going counter-clockwise.
At any point, players may guess the mystery topic in the form of a question. For example, “Is it Forrest Gump?” If they are correct, they win, and the round ends. If they are incorrect, this counts as one of the 20 total questions.
20 Questions ends after a player correctly guesses the topic, either throughout the game or when all 20 questions have been asked. The winner of the game is the person who correctly guesses the mystery topic. Whoever correctly guesses the mystery topic, should become the next player’s turn to be “it.” The game of 20 Questions typically ends once every player has had an opportunity to come up with a mystery topic, so make sure to take turns to keep it inclusive.
20 Questions Strategy & Tips
- Don’t Exclude: Avoid choosing a topic that is too specific or personal. Niche topics make guessing within 20 questions more difficult than needed.
- Keep Questions 50/50: When guessing another player’s topic, make sure to ask definitive questions that result in a yes or no answer. Vague answers like “kinda” or “sometimes” make for vague guesses!
- Build It Up: When guessing another player’s topic, make sure to pay attention to other questions being asked to build upon their answers. For example, if someone reveals the topic is something small, you could ask “Is it smaller than a dog?”
20 Questions Example
Let’s run through an example of a typical round of 20 Questions to get an idea of how a typical game looks. For this example, let’s make the mystery topic “Los Angeles,” where the player guesses before hitting 20 questions.
- Is it a person?
- Is it a place?
- Is it a foreign country?
- Is it a foreign city?
- Is it a U.S. city?
- Is it New Orleans?
- Is it a small city?
- Is it a big city?
- Is it New York City?
- Is it Chicago?
- Is it L.A.?
What is the maximum number of people that can play 20 Questions?
The best games of 20 Questions are played between groups of 2-5 people, but if you’d like to increase the number of players, simply increase the game to 25 or 30 Questions if needed.
What happens if no one guesses my topic in 20 Questions?
If no one in the group can guess your topic, have no fear! That just means you really stumped them. If this happens, you may reveal the topic and choose a new option, and the round resets.