Tag Archives: games

The Ritual Game: One Man Hide-and-Seek

Interviewer: Okay so how do you play this game?

Informant: Well as the name suggests you have to do this alone, while everyone is out of the house, preferably. You take an old doll that you don’t like anymore, cut it open and remove all the stuffing. Then fill it up with white rice. Once the doll is totally full of rice, cut a hair from your head and poke it into the heart of the doll’s body. Then take a knife and prick a finger, doesn’t matter which one, and wipe the blood onto the rice protruding from the doll’s back. Once you’ve done that, take a bit of red string and sew up the back of the doll and cut it off with the same knife you used to prick your finger. Once it’s sewn up give it a name, and it has to be a name that no one you know has.

Interviewer: Sounds like you have to be very careful during all this prep work.

Informant: Oh yeah and we’re not even done yet. Actually playing the game is specific too. You then have to take the finished doll to a bathroom, run a shallow bath, and then place the doll in the water. Turn out all the lights in the house, finding a hiding spot and count to ten. You shouldn’t forget to take the knife with you when you go to hide. Say ‘ready or not here I come’ then go back to the doll. Repeat ‘I found you, I found you, I found you’ then ‘you’re the next it, you’re the next it, you’re the next it’ and tie the knife to the doll’s hand. Then go to hide again, it doesn’t have to be in the same place. If you make it to sunrise, you’ve won the game.

Interviewer: Do you get anything out of winning?

Informant: No, I don’t think so. You just get bragging rights.

Interviewer: What happens if you lose?

Informant: The doll kills you, supposedly. But if you need to stop the game, like if the doll finds you, it’s recommended that you always have a glass of salt water prepared to pour on the doll. When you pour the water, shout ‘I win, I win, I win’ then the game is over.

Background: One Man Hide and Seek was part of a film project that she was doing for school. She researched this game but does not remember which sites she learned it from or its origin.

Context: I was interviewing my informant for rituals that she learned about through research and hearsay from others. She was happy to tell me about this one since it resulted in one of her favorite movies that she made.

Thoughts: I severely doubt that the original reason for doing One Man Hide and Seek was just so one could have bragging rights, so it must have been a ritual for something else originally. I did a little digging online and found a site that suggests the ritual was originally posted on a ‘Japanese horror bulletin board.’

Please see “One-Man Hide and Seek / Hide and Seek Alone.” Know Your Meme Accessed March 20, 2020

The Ritual Game: The Midnight man

Informant: It’s some ritual that was apparently used to punish bad people somewhere in Europe. The ritual starts at 3 AM and you need a candle, a piece of paper, and your front door. You write your name on the piece of paper then put it outside the door under a lit candle. Knock on the door 12 times and make sure it is EXACT, and make sure to get the last knock to stop at 3AM. Then open the door, pick up the paper and the candle and the game has begun. It lasts until 6 AM, so it’s only three hours but you have to keep your candle lit for all that time. The Midnight Man will try to blow out the candle or scare you into dropping it. Your candle is your only source of light so it’s pretty easy to get super scared. If your candle goes out and you cannot relight it within 5 seconds then surround yourself in a circle of salt and sit there until morning. Do not under any circumstances turn on a light! Both of these things are ways of forfeiting the game but that doesn’t mean the Midnight Man leaves. He haunts you until you complete the game.

Interviewer: So what do you get for winning the game?

Informant: I think you get to make a wish and it will comes true.

Interviewer: So what happens if you lose?

Informant: He kills you, obviously. [laughs]

Background: My informant had done research into different dark ritualized games such as this for a film projection she was doing. She did not end up using this game as the final inspiration for her movie.

Context: My informant and I were staying up late on the night of the 19th, just finishing playing video games together. We were walking through the house in the dark and she tried to scare me with this scary ritual, saying that she was going to do it.

Thoughts: I imagine the combination of sleep deprivation, lack of light, and the general atmosphere of being in an empty house would make for a fun time. Apparently this can be played with multiple people at one time so you could probably mess around with each other a great deal. With that in mind, I suspect this actually could have been a punishment ritual, though I am unsure where it would be used. The game could be turned into a form of psychological torture to get people to confess to crimes by making them think a demon was coming to kill them anyway.

Pondy

Main Piece:

The informant: “I’d always play pondy in the winter, I never played hockey though”

Background:

The informant grew up in a small, midwestern town on the Great Lakes where winters were always below freezing and lakes were of easy access. The informant’s high school also had a very competitive hockey team. Hockey was ingrained into the town as something all kids would play for at least a year, according to the informant.

Context:

The informant was telling me about her hobbies she had when she was younger.  I thought she played hockey, but the prior quote is how she corrected me.

Thoughts:

This demonstrates a piece of folk speech that has been created to differentiate one activity. Outdoor hockey is exclusively known as pondy while indoor, rink hockey is just hockey. From context clues, this word is easy enough to understand which lends itself to being used by young kids out playing games. Pondy also implies a sort of casual play to the game instead of competitive hockey. It is interesting to see the same sport be defined by its location through a colloquial expression.

Derby Day

Main Piece:

The informant described to me a tradition at her all-girls, private high school known as Derby Day. It is a day at the very beginning of the year, reserved for just the high school aged girls because the school is for grades 5-12. The high school girls would not go to class in the morning and instead play games and have cheer contests. 

In the afternoon, each grade was required to bring a different product. Freshman always had to bring ice cream. Sophomores had to bring oreos and jell-o. Juniors had to bring chocolate syrup. Seniors had to bring whipped cream. After the morning activities, the student council would “dump all of these things into kiddie pools on the field. When the set-up was complete, the freshman and sophomores had to sit in big circles” said the informant. Then the seniors would dump all of the jell-o, oreos, ice cream, etc. on the freshman and the juniors would do the same to the sophomores. The informant explained it was sort of an affectionate thing, “if you were a freshman and had a senior friend you would just get disgusting but it was out of love”.

After all of the dumping was complete, there was a water slide the informant’s school would rent. This was the only way to get cleaned off but it was an unspoken rule that the seniors could skip anyone in line and the juniors could skip anyone but seniors. So the freshman would wait in line to get cleaned off but never could.

Background:

This occurred at the informant’s all-girls, private, Episcopalian high school in Memphis, Tennessee. It was an ongoing tradition that girls looked forward to every year.

Context:

The informant explained this tradition to me when they were reminiscing about their high school experience.

Thoughts:

This tradition acts as a way for the high school aged girls to feel as though they have really grown up at the start of the year. It is common for students to go through types of hazing as underclassmen and then transition into being the hazers. Being able to dump chocolate syrup on someone’s head is looked at like a rite of passage at this high school. As the informant explained it to me, she held the day in such reverence it clearly is an important memory to her. She included the feelings of being an underclassman and upperclassman, participating in this. This tradition emphasizes the changes to the high school classes, as newfound juniors those students can establish themselves as upperclassmen by getting the opportunity to dump oreos on the heads of their peers. It is a funny, but important way to demonstrate the girls have grown over the past year.

Pikachu

Background: Informant is a 22 year old American who has lived in California his whole life.

Main Piece:

Interviewer: Do you remember any games you played during your childhood?

Informant: I remember a hand game I use to play with my sister. It was called Pikachu.

Interviewer: How do you play pikachu?

Informant: Pikachu is considered a hand game that goes along with a little song. You play with another person and you hold one of your hands against each other and the other hand would touch above and below, then side to side. Then you would play rock paper scissors and whoever won would pinch your cheek. You would do the song again and play rock paper scissors again. If the same person pinched both cheeks you get to slap them at the end. The song “Pikachu going up, going down. Pikachu going side to side” At the end of the pinching and slapping your cheeks would be red making you look similar to Pikachu.

Context: Interview with a family member, asking them about childhood games they remember

Thoughts: Pikachu sounds like a fun game. I like the fact that it incorporates more than one game, because it has rock paper scissors as well but the added twist of pinching and slapping seems mischievous enough for a children’s game.

Slide

Background: Informant is a 22 year old male who has lived in California his whole life.

Main Piece:

Interviewer: Did you play any hand games that were not based off of a musical riddle?

Informant: Yes, I remember playing a hand game called Slide. Well at least thats what we called it in school.

Interviewer: How do you play slide?

Informant: Slide is a game where you slide hands with whoever your playing with and then you clap, then clap your left hand to their right and and then your right hand to their left hand. You then clap again and then using your backsides of your hands clap against the backsides of their hands. You also count when you clap, so if you are at 2 then you clap each hand twice before clapping the backsides. You also clap the backsides the same amount of times as the number you’ve counted up to. It seems really easy but when you go at a fast pace it gets really hard.

Interviewer: How do you win?

Informant: Whoever messes up first loses.

Context: Interview with a family member, asking him about any childhood games he played with friends or family.

Thoughts: It is interesting to see how clapping can be such a fun game for kids. It is funny that it is also competitive. I think the game Slide has a proper name. I find it fascinating that the game requires you to multi-task, counting and clapping. Kids get really creative with games.

Los Encantados

Main piece: 

The following was transcribed from a conversation between the informant and interviewer. 

Informant: Well a popular game we played back then… I don’t know if you guys play this since everyone is on a screen now but back then we played outside. Have you heard of los encantados?

Interviewer: Oh yes that’s still a thing. I played with my cousins and with my sister in Mexico. 

Informant; Oh that’s good. So you know how it works. Do you want me to still tell you? 

Interviewer: Yeah I want to hear it from you. Can you describe how it’s played? 

Informant: Yeah of course. So you start in a circle and everyone puts their toes in and you do the little song to randomly pick the person who’s it. The other people have one minute to hide and after that minute… the person counting… she ends up or he… he or she starts searching for the others. The person who’s it must touch the person hiding and if they do then they freeze them. So they can’t move until someone else touches them. And the game ends when all the hiders are frozen or tagged. 

Background: My informant here was my grandma who’s staying with us during COVID-19. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico but lives in the U.S. with us for the most part. She says that she did not have a lot of time to play outside because her parents wouldn’t let her out and would keep her busy with house chores, but that los encantados is one of the few games that she did play, especially with her 2 sisters. She’s known this game since she was a teen and encourages us to play outside like this game requires. She does not like that very young kids are on screens all the time. 

Context: On the last day I asked my grandma for any games in particular that she remembers from when she was young. Or a game that is played a lot in Mexico. And she said that she did not know of games but then she remembered los encantados. She proceeded with the game rules while outside. 

Thoughts: I find it curious that this game, which I think is the Spanish version of “freeze tag” still exists because it has been around for a long time. Times change and less and less young kids and teens do outside activities. Most of the time, they find some kind of electronic device to entertain themselves but I loved this game when I was younger. And I still see my younger cousins playing it so I feel like it’s a traditional and simple game that has withstood technological innovation. I find it pretty cool that it’s still known and people still play it. 

Pompyang: A Filipino Children’s Game

Main Piece: Pompyang happens when you want to choose someone to be “it” for a game like tag or when we have to choose someone to do chores. It is a quick and easy game for choosing someone. First, everyone puts their hands in the middle after making a circle. On one person’s signal, everyone lifts their hands and positions their hands either facing palms up or down. The odd ones out are considered safe until you get down to three people then it is repeated. Once there are three people, the odd one out of those three is considered the loser.

Context: The informant lived the majority of her life in the Philippines. She then immigrated to the United States when she was 24. She learned about the game when she was in grade school in the Philippines.

Thoughts: I already knew about this game but I think it’s a really simple way to settle debates. Because it’s so simple, it’s a way to settle disputes for kids or even adults. By only giving two options it makes the game much simpler but the only time when it becomes remotely complicated is when there are an even amount of people and there are an even amount of upward and downward palms.

“Bottoms Up” Soccer Game

Main Piece

Informant: Whenever it was someone’s birthday on the team they would have to play “Bottom’s Up.” They would have to stand in the goal, bend over, and grab the net with their head down and closed eyes. Their butts would be in the air facing the field, and everyone else on the team got to take a shot and hit you in the butt. If you were hit, you were hit. If you flinched then the person got to shoot again. It was a fun thing we always ended practice with whenever there was a birthday. I just hated when it was my birthday, haha.

Background

The informant is a great friend and housemate of mine, who is currently a senior at USC studying Health and Human Sciences whose family is living in a town four hours outside of Denver, Colorado. Coming from a military family, the informant has lived in various areas, the most memorable for him was New Orleans. The informant is half Korean and half Caucasian, and is a sports fanatic having played soccer for most of his life. The informant is also a very big raver, as he enjoys going to several festivals a year, originally beginning to attend in his senior year of high school. 

Context

During our interview I brought up how different games can be considered as folklore. After I described how games fit these categories he remembered a game him and his high school soccer team used to play which was taught to them by their coach. 

Analysis

This folk game is a great combination of a game, as well as a folk ritual as it occurs on every birthday almost serving as an initiation. This shared experience that everyone on the team had to go through is something they could all relate to and participate in, fostering a sense of unity amongst teammates as well. There is also a great sense of humor about this game where everyone gets a chance to honor the person whose birthday in a more rabble-rousing way.

Champagne Cork Game

Main Piece: Informant recalls the game of catching the champagne cork

Informant- So whenever we have champagne to open my sisters and I immediately run outside and prepare for the fun cork catching game. My father stands on one side of the yard and my siblings and I wait on the other. He opens the champagne, the cork flies, and we all scramble around trying to catch it. Whoever catches the cork is given good luck! 

Interviewer- When do you play the game? 

Informant- Usually whenever my dad pulls out the champagne, we are celebrating something. Whether it is good weather, luck with work, or a simple good mood the champagne represents happiness and celebration in my family. This drink comes with the fun lucky game of catching the cork. 

Interviewer- Do you try to win? Do you believe in the luck of the cork? 

Informant- Oh I always try to win. I love any opportunity to mess around with my siblings. I usually win the cork and love the feeling of catching it. I dont know is I particularly believe that it brings me luck but I feel great and love the celebration! 

Background: The informant is the eldest daughter of a large family with two younger sisters. She recalls playing the game with her sisters many times throughout childhood. She explains that as the eldest child she always wins and gets the corks good luck. She learned this game from her father and shares it with her friends. She remembers using the game as a playful release, pushing over sibling or wrestling for the best spot to catch it. The game is important to her because it is a happy way to celebrate opening champagne with friends or family. 

Context: The informant is 25 years old and the oldest of three daughters. The piece is recorded from her memory of playing the game. She recalls playing the game outside because the cork could break something or the champagne could spill. The game is usually played with a group of 2 or more ‘catchers’ and one person opening the bottle. She explains that her father is usually the one opening the bottle and she takes that role when playing the game with friends. 

Thoughts: This game was an important part of their childhood connecting the siblings as well as the father with his kids. It is important for parents to pass down fond memories, connecting them to their own childhood. The game is very simple and the folk belief is carried with the lucky powers of the cork. I am unsure if the player who catches the cork is given luck in reality. But this does give the person a chance to be celebrated.