Game of States: A Great Way to Collect Business Cards

Collect Business Cards

Frequently, it is desirable for sponsors to collect business cards from everyone attending a program, a workshop or a meeting.  To encourage people to submit cards and stay for the entire event sponsors may have a raffle at the end of the event.  Winners receive prizes such as gift certificates, sponsor products or bottles of wine.  While people enjoy traditional raffles, on occasion we suggest awarding prizes in a unique way.

The Game of States

The Game of States provides an interesting variation on the traditional raffle.  I recommend the game because it serves as a way to collect business cards, it is fun and it encourages people to network and ask each other “How did they do that?

Preparing to Play the Game

  • Prior to the event two of the organizers need to learn the rules of the game and practice playing it.  One of the organizers will be blindfolded.  The other will be the announcer.
  • As attendees arrive ask everyone to:
    • Write the name of a state (any state) on the back of their business card.  (I recommend having blank cards similar to the card below handy for those who forget their cards or who have non-standard size business cards.)
      Blank Business Cards

      Blank Business Cards

    • Drop their card with the name of the state on the back side into a fishbowl shaped container.
  • At the end of the event:
    • Blindfold one of the organizers familiar with the rules of the game.
    • After you blindfold the organizer ask a member of the audience to shuffle the business cards.
    • Ask a second member of the audience to shuffle the cards again and place them back into the fishbowl.
    • Hand the fishbowl to the blindfolded organizer.

The Game

  • Have the blindfolded organizer draw one business card from the fishbowl and hand it to the announcer.
  • After viewing the card the announcer will announce the name of the person whose card was drawn.
  • The announcer will ask the blindfolded organizer a simple “Yes/No” question: “Is the state ____?”  The blindfolded organizer will respond “Yes” or “No.”
  • Repeat the previous step until the blindfolded organizer says “Yes.”
  • Once the blindfolded organizer says “yes” the announcer will ask the person whose card was drawn if the answer was correct.  If it was incorrect the person whose card was drawn wins a prize.
  • Repeat the game until either:
    • The blindfolded organizer gives the wrong answer.
    • The supply of prizes runs out.
    • All cards have been drawn.
    • You are out of time or the predetermined number of cards have been drawn.
  • After you have finished the game allow attendees to work in groups to figure out the rules of the game.  Award prizes to the groups coming closest to figuring out the rules.

Note: This game is really difficult for the announcer and blindfolded organizer.  While, in theory, both should perform perfectly, they may make some errors.

Game Variations

Instead of having the announcer merely asking “Is the state ___?” for each state have the announcer tell a little story about the state.  For example, “I want to go to Alaska for my next vacation.  Is the state Alaska?”  Have the blindfolded organizer respond with a story such as “Yellowstone National Park is in Wyoming, but no.”  Also, have the blindfolded organizer hesitate on some of the answers as if the question is really difficult.

The Secret Rules of the Game

There are numerous sets of rules you can use for this game.  I recommend using either the one rule or two rule variations to determine the key state explained below.  If you want to keep the game relatively easy for the announcer and blindfolded organizer use just one rule.  If you want to make it much more difficult for the attendees to figure out the secret rules then use two.  I nearly always use the two rule variation.

The Key State

The most difficult part of this game is that the announcer needs to remember to ask about a key state immediately before asking about state written on the card they are holding. The blindfolded organizer needs to remember to say “no” to the key state, but “yes” to the state that follows. no matter what it is.   For example, if the card drawn had Rhode Island written on it, the announcer might ask “Is the state ___:

  • Kentucky (answer is no)
  • Maryland (answer is no)
  • Montana (answer is no, but this is the key state)
  • Rhode Island (answer is yes)

So, once you decide which rule you will be using, practice doing this activity many times.

The One Rule Variation

If a state ends with an A and it is not the state written on the card the announcer may use it as a key state (examples are Georgia and South Carolina). The state after the key state will always be the yes state.  The states before the key state will always be no states.  Common errors would include:

  • the announcer might use the state written on the card as a key state.  For example, if the card says California on it the announcer must remember not to use California as the key state.
  • the announcer might forget to ask a key state before the yes state.
  • the blindfolded organizer might respond yes to the key state, not remembering the state after the key state is the yes state.

The Two Rule Variation

In the two rule variation, the announcer may use a state as a key state if it is not written on the card and:

  • It begins with a consonant and ends with an A (examples are Georgia and South Carolina)
  • It begins with a vowel and ends with an O (examples are Idaho and Ohio)

The two rule variation differs from the one rule variation in that states which begin with a vowel and end in an A such as Alabama could be key states in the one rule variation, but not in the two rule variation.  The states which begin with vowels and end in O are key states in the two rule variation, but not in the one rule variation.


I recommend:

  • Before your event have the announcer and blindfolded organizer practice this activity until they perform it error free 20 or more times in a row on at least 2 separate occasions.  By doing this, you will reduce the number of errors made in front of your audience.
  • After your event email the link to this story to your attendees along with a note thanking them for their participation.  Once you do this your audience may try this activity with their friends, family and colleagues and, in the process, tell them about your great event.  As a result more people may come to your future events!

More About The Game of States

If you would like to read more about the Game of States please refer to our article in the Rhode Island Small Business Journal (RISBJ) Volume 6, Issue 9 which was published in 2017.

Other Opportunity to Make Your Meetings into Unique Experiences

For another opportunity to make your meetings into a unique experience please check out our article Celebrate a Birthday at Your Events.


I would like to thank:

  • Dr. Fred Girondi who first introduced me to the concept of the Game of States.
  • Maria Gaskell and Amanda de Oliveira for presenting this activity with me during the 2017 – 2018 academic year.


Dr. Ronald


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