Fortunately - Unfortunately

Fortunately - Unfortunately


This classic game was popularised in 80s. It is fun to play and helps to generate a lot of positives and negatives for a given topic. Delegates go through a series of statements that start with ‘fortunately’ or ‘unfortunately’ while alternating between them.

Use this exercise for creativity, building narrative and storytelling. It is a great exercise to highlight that there is always a flipside to a negative or positive.

This exercise is also useful for analysing the development of a project over time, especially one that is troubled. The beauty of this exercise is that positive and negative statements are always balanced against each other; you can never say too many good things or bad things about a topic and hence it encourages participants to focus on improving it or creating a balanced narrative.


Alternate between stating statements that start with ‘fortunately’ and ‘unfortunately’.

What You Need

  • An area where people can sit in a circle.


  • It is best if you go through this exercise with an odd number of delegates.
  • Put the delegates in a circle and nominate a volunteer.
  • You now have a choice:
    • You can declare the first sentence yourself to set the scene and initiate the direction. In this case, the volunteer should continue after you.
    • Alternatively, you can let the delegates decide what they want to talk about.
  • Ask the next person in a clockwise order to follow with, “Unfortunately,…”
  • Ask the person after that to follow this by, “Fortunately,…”
  • Get them to alternate as it is continued around the circle and then repeat another round.
  • Let them continue for about 10 minutes or as you see fit.
  • Each statement should immediately follow from the previous one. You can moderate this so delegates don’t highjack the narrative in a random direction.
  • Here is an example exchange:
    • Delegate 1: “A year ago we decided to embark on a grand project to develop a computer game with crowdfunding rather through a publisher.”
    • Delegate 2: “Unfortunately, this meant that we had to quickly create a concept and a demo that could attract people who would pledge money.”
    • Delegate 3: “Fortunately, we stayed focused, worked hard and created a large imaginary world that players could explore and enjoy.”
    • Delegate 4: “Unfortunately, we could not give a demo away to players without encouraging them to pledge some cash beforehand.”
    • Delegate 5: “Fortunately, this led to a new creative marketing to convince players on the quality and the scale of the game market and we started to receive a lot of cash through crowdfunding.”
    • Delegate 6: “Unfortunately, this meant that now we needed to deliver an even bigger project, as players’ expectations had increased significantly, now that they had seen our marketing and pledged money.”
    • Delegate 7: “Fortunately, we had more cash now and so we could hire aggressively to expand the development team.”
    • Delegate 8: “Unfortunately, having a larger team created communication issues and we started to lose the original tone of the game.”
    • Delegate 9: “Fortunately, the large team of level designers allowed us to make the game look amazing and in the process turned it into an internet sensation.”
    • Delegate 10: “Unfortunately, this raised expectations making it overhyped, which means we are now unsure when to release the game since we need to make sure we meet this heightened expectations…”
  • Allocate about 10 minutes or when you think continuing will no longer be valuable.
  • Follow with a discussion.


Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes

Activity: 10 minutes or as necessary

Group Feedback: 5 minutes


What points were raised during the exchange that you found surprising? What did you learn? What do you think about the narrative? What do you think about the choices of statements delegates made when they were talking about the topic?


You can also go through this as a single person exercise. Here is how it works:

  • Say a statement about something you planned to do or embarked on a while back.
  • Now continue with, ‘unfortunately’ and ‘fortunately’ as normal.
  • Here is an example:
    • “Two years ago I decided to learn to paint in oil.”
    • “Unfortunately, I found it very difficult.”
    • “Fortunately, there was a brilliant course offered by a master artist in my area.”
    • “Unfortunately, I could not spend enough time attending the course as I had a full time job.”
    • “Fortunately, I liked it enough that I turned myself into an efficient self-learning student that learned fast.”
    • “Unfortunately, I discovered that there was a limit to what I could achieve on my own since painting faces is really hard.”
    • “Fortunately, I persevered and found…”

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