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July 20, 2006 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Top Ten Most Violent Children's Games (no, not those games). So, tag is banned, but what about its variants?
posted by Stauf (108 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also, Punch Buggy Rules and Regulations [warning: geocities]
posted by Stauf at 9:28 AM on July 20, 2006


I remember during one school lockin, my father was trying to explain the rules of this game where the kid with the ball was tackled until he let it go to the principal of the school. "Oh, you mean Smear the Queer."
At least dad was trying to be delicate.
posted by klangklangston at 9:35 AM on July 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


I went to a white-trash, sub-suburban, lowest-of-the-lower-middle-class Catholic elementary school in Alberta, and I never once heard it called "Smear the Queer."

Go figure.
posted by Zozo at 9:38 AM on July 20, 2006


Is Red Rover the same as Bulldog in the UK?
posted by Orange Goblin at 9:38 AM on July 20, 2006


Orange Goblin: Yes.
posted by Zozo at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2006


We used to play a game we called "killer," which is quite dangerous when played with a superball (i.e. the best way!). The rules are simple: find the side of a building; whip the superball at it as hard as you can; avoid being hit by the superball (or you're out); run after / catch the ball; repeat. My memory is fuzzy, but if something happened (if you dropped the ball?) you had to lean against the wall and your opponents whipped the ball at you.

Ah, the memories... and the black eyes... and the welts.

This game was the only one to be banned at my elementary school. None of the ones on this list were.
posted by Ricky_gr10 at 9:43 AM on July 20, 2006


I guess mumbledy peg is right out?
posted by caddis at 9:43 AM on July 20, 2006


Oh sure, it's all fun until someone loses an eye.
posted by Crackerbelly at 9:44 AM on July 20, 2006


British Bulldogs is similar to Red Rover except the "defending" team don't link arms. BB is pretty much just a full on charge, and the defenders have to "capture" the attackers by wrestling them to the ground, lifting their feet from the floor or some such.
Lost a few teeth playing that game.
posted by Joeforking at 9:45 AM on July 20, 2006


Is Red Rover the same as Bulldog in the UK?

It was different in my neighborhood. In Red Rover, the team calling people over had to hold hands and form a chain. When we played "British Bulldog", it was more like tackling w/o the football. One person yelled Bulldog, and they had to tackle someone, whoever they managed to tackle joined their side, and then they both tried to tackle people until no one was left to tackle (then whoever was tackled first was the "Bulldog" for the next round).
posted by stifford at 9:46 AM on July 20, 2006


I used to play a very complex version of Punch Buggy with an ex -- one punch for a regular modern bug, with an extra punch for each of the following: Old bug, two-tone bug, bug with a logo or design or wood paneling on the side, convertible bug. We added PT cruisers and Humvees to the game as well (I don't remember why), with the same extra punches for two-tone, logo, or convertible. I bruise very easily.
posted by Gator at 9:47 AM on July 20, 2006


Is Red Rover the same as Bulldog in the UK?
posted by Orange Goblin at 12:38 PM EST on July 20 [+fave] [!]


We used both terms, depending on neighbourhood, I guess (Ontario, Canada).
posted by jikel_morten at 9:47 AM on July 20, 2006


Oh sure, it's all fun until someone loses an eye.

Unless, of course, you're playing Lose The Eye. Good times, good times.
posted by jonmc at 9:48 AM on July 20, 2006 [5 favorites]


We used to play a game we called "killer," which is quite dangerous when played with a superball (i.e. the best way!). The rules are simple: find the side of a building; whip the superball at it as hard as you can; avoid being hit by the superball (or you're out); run after / catch the ball; repeat. My memory is fuzzy, but if something happened (if you dropped the ball?) you had to lean against the wall and your opponents whipped the ball at you.

We called that Suicide, or Asses Up (although there were slight rule differences between them). When you dropped the ball, you had to run and touch the wall, before someone picked it up and hit you with it.
posted by stifford at 9:48 AM on July 20, 2006


We knew "Smear the Queer" as "Kill the Carrier" only.

Ricky_gr10's "Killer" we called "Pickle" -- no idea why.

My family always did punch buggy, but an even more violent version takes place when we see "Bump Ahead" signs -- bump a head!
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:49 AM on July 20, 2006


and then junior grows up to learn young adult games, like quarters and blow pong
posted by caddis at 9:50 AM on July 20, 2006


That's some pretty good writing, but I'm most impressed that he came up with a photo of each game. Nice article.
posted by yhbc at 9:51 AM on July 20, 2006


Nah. Pickle is when you have two bases and you have to run between them without getting tagged/tackled. Each person so tagged becomes a tagger in the middle. The last one left is the first tagger in the next game.
posted by klangklangston at 9:52 AM on July 20, 2006


booksandlibretti : "We knew 'Smear the Queer' as 'Kill the Carrier' only."

In my neighborhood, we
+++ ATH0 NO CARRIER.
posted by Bugbread at 9:54 AM on July 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


I was always fond of the supreme simplicity of "King of the Hill"
posted by vacapinta at 9:55 AM on July 20, 2006


No snowball fights?
That was the only game that was banned at my Ontario elementary school. Breaking this rule once meant I had to miss a class trip to the Roller Rink, boo hoo.
And nope, never heard of Smear the Queer either.
posted by Flashman at 9:56 AM on July 20, 2006


We used to play a game we called "killer"

I knew this as "Spread Eagle," with the rule that stifford mentions. Way more violent than freaking tug-of-war. I suspect the author of being a chunkity-ass nerd.
posted by furiousthought at 9:56 AM on July 20, 2006


Why isn't kiss chase listed among the tag variants? My grade school had to ban that one, as it tended to make the less attractive girls cry.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:58 AM on July 20, 2006


We played Smear The Queer also. (Minnesota/North Dakota)

In Minnesota, wintertime plowing meant King of the Hill, which you probably know. Man, I loved that game, but it was always and forever banned, even among teachers that allowed us to play StQ, dodgeball, Kick the Can, and every other game.
posted by unixrat at 10:00 AM on July 20, 2006


In my (catholic) Elementary school, we played Co-Ed Floor Hockey once. Once.
posted by stifford at 10:01 AM on July 20, 2006


We knew "Smear the Queer" as "Kill the Carrier" only.

We called it "Kill the Man with the Ball"
posted by poppo at 10:09 AM on July 20, 2006


I don't think the queer in Smear the Queer has anything to do with homosexuality, at least not originally.

Although now that I think about it, it was often the gay kids that wanted the ball so they could be roughed up by the other boys.
posted by king walnut at 10:10 AM on July 20, 2006


In my elementary school, we had a game known as 'Pac-Man Pinball.' The class was divded into two teams. Each child got a wooden bowling pin. Some of those red balls were put into play, and the idea was to throw the red balls and knock over the pins of the other side (your pin knocked over and you were out). I've never heard of this game being played anywhere else (this is Springfield, Missouri).
posted by Bookhouse at 10:13 AM on July 20, 2006


klangklangston, in your version of pickle, were there two people standing on the side who threw a ball back and forth, and players ran from base to base only when the ball was not in the throwers'/catchers' hands? I forget what it's called, but I sprained my ankle doing that . . . mind, I was about 14 at the time.

The most violent kids' game I know (our youth group leader broke her thumb playing it) wasn't on the list. Swat -- the rules are complicated, but the props involve a bat made out of newspaper, an upended trash can, and a bunch of chairs that are as rickety as possible. Anyone else know this game?
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:14 AM on July 20, 2006


We also played this game called Jaws, where the gym teacher had a rope with a small sandbag tied to the end. She would spin it around her in a circle, and we had to jump up when the bag swung underneath us. If you messed up, the bag would bola around your feet, and you would fall on your ass. When it got down to the "finalists", the teacher would sometimes swing the bag up and you would have to duck under it.
posted by stifford at 10:14 AM on July 20, 2006


Killer, Suicide, Asses Up, and Spread Eagle are all variations on Wall Ball. It was also known as Suey in my neighborhood, but most people just called it wall ball. My friends and I still play sometimes.
posted by SteveFlamingo at 10:17 AM on July 20, 2006


As a small, round person, my athletic ability is often underestimated, but not during red rover. My method of getting past even the strongest defenders was to almost stop short and then jump in the air, landing on the linked arms from above. Worked almost every time-and I actually got to try it again not very long ago during a drunken game of red rover that occurred during a group walk after the bar closed. One of my victims claims that I did permanent damage to his wrist. As a defender, I would always try to swing my and my partners arms forward at the moment of impact. Probably bad physics, but I felt like it helped.
posted by cilantro at 10:18 AM on July 20, 2006


We used to play a game we called "killer,"

I played that too.. we called it "WallBall". The object was to throw a tennis ball at a wall. If some one caught it, you had to run to the wall and touch it, and the catcher got a chance to hurl the ball at you.

If you touched the wall, and no one caught it, you had to stand agaisnt the wall and get pelted. If someone hit you after you touched the wall, they got pelted.

Kidney shots hurt.
posted by triolus at 10:18 AM on July 20, 2006


Whoa whoa whoa. Tag. Banned? Tag.

USA Today could understandably be mistaken for The Onion on any given day, but I'm sadly not finding that hard to believe.
posted by ninjew at 10:25 AM on July 20, 2006


I remember it as "Smear the Queer" - and at that age, it had absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality. I think the term 'queer' became related to the LGBT movement in San Francisco in the late 80's. I'm probably wrong, but having lived here at that time, it seems to be correct.

Anyway, we were allowed to play all of those games at school. Summer camp had a slip & slide, but I think they were yanked off of the market. Kids weren't able to avoid nasty objects like sprinkler heads. I always thought the thing was fun.
"Red Rover" was another summer camp favourite. It was fun because I was a pretty large kid and could easily break through the opposing lineup.

Our elementary school also had metal playground equipment and tanbark. Whoever put tanbark in a playground should be put in prison. The school finally got rid of the metal playground equipment in 2005 and replaced it with that new "kid safe" playground stuff.

"Dodge Ball" was another fun one, but we also had "Kickball" which was basically baseball rules, but with a soccer ball. What a horrible idea. Again, being a bigger kid and on the county soccer league, it was a no brainer. A few of us were able to kick the ball waaaaaaay beyond the reach of the outfielders. Eventually they just started calling it a home run.

Ah, those were good times. No padded playground equipment, and the real threat of serious bodily injury every time you walked out onto the playground.
posted by drstein at 10:25 AM on July 20, 2006


Books— Sometimes. It's based on the baseball "pickle" of trying to get between two bases without being tagged out. The rules kinda evolve based on where you're playing it.
Having only heard cricket described, it always seemed sort of similar.
posted by klangklangston at 10:26 AM on July 20, 2006


Why isn't kiss chase listed among the tag variants? My grade school had to ban that one, as it tended to make the less attractive girls cry.
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:58 AM CST on July 20 [+fave]


You can't protect them forever. Viva natural selection.
posted by ninjew at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2006


We were a bunch of dorks in my neighborhood- We played a game called "Discs of Tron." Somewhat based off of the arcade game, I guess.

Rules were fairly simple:

Each player has "X" lives, points, whatever you want to call it.

Every player can have a frisbee - The more, the merrier.

Divide into two opposing teams, ideally across the street. The street becomes a sort of "neutral zone." Players can only be in - and pick up discs - in their own zone or the neutral zone.

You lose a life if:
- you are hit by the disc
- one of your discs is caught, unless that disc has already touched the ground.

Fairly simple, but led to some surprisingly complex gameplay... Throwing a disc in a way in which it would not be caught, but still hit someone, is no easy task. You learned to either bounce the disc hard off of the ground (didn't matter if it was caught) or simply throw the disc with so much force that it was terrifying.

I'm honestly surprised nobody was decapitated playing this.
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:30 AM on July 20, 2006


No Lawn Dart tag?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:33 AM on July 20, 2006


Wall ball, Killer, butts up, etc. was called "Pinners" on the north side of Chicago in the 70's. Pickle, we called "running bases". Smear the queer was definitely in effect, as well as massive, whole-block's-worth-of-kids games of "cops and robbers". Ah yout'.
posted by ubi at 10:35 AM on July 20, 2006


Oh, and Dodgeball was called Bombardment, which when you think about it, is much more apt...
posted by ubi at 10:36 AM on July 20, 2006


I had to laugh at the article's mention of Swimming Pool Chicken. So many childhood friends of mine were injured by errant fingers in the eye, near-drowning, headbutting, heads hitting concrete coping, etc. A great game!
posted by NationalKato at 10:36 AM on July 20, 2006


Oh, and did anyone ever play Prison Break, or any variation thereof, where one team had to free 'captured' members from a jail, which was guarded by opponents, while the remaining opponents hunted you down?
posted by NationalKato at 10:38 AM on July 20, 2006


MysticMCJ - me and my mates invented something close to that, only played in pitch darkness with an LED light-up frisbee. (I probably shouldn't mention that this game was invented last month, and that we are all nearly 30.)
posted by jack_mo at 10:39 AM on July 20, 2006


My absolute favorite game from PE in grade school was called Invasion. It consisted of two sides on a football field sized area, divided exactly in half. Each side had three footballs places way in the back of the field. Everyone wore flags, and crossing the line into the other side would allow other players to pull your flags. If your flags got pulled, you got put in "jail", which was an area in the back of the opposing team's side. The goal of course was to successfully invade the other team's side and get all their balls onto your side.

A few points that made the game interesting were: if you made it into the other team's side and could tag one of your teammates in jail, the two of you were allowed a free pass back to your own side (assuming you weren't holding a ball). Also, "randomly" the PE teacher would yell Jailbreak! and everyone in jail could make a run back to their own side, but could also get their flag pulled on the way back.

Totally non-violent, but wicked fun. Also, we played a lot of "Russian Kickball", with the difference being that you can kick the ball in any direction when you're at bat, so players needed to be stationed behind the plate as well.

On preview: dammit, NationalKato.
posted by crawl at 10:41 AM on July 20, 2006


Swat -- the rules are complicated...

Wow, I thought we invented this...I don't think it had a name though. And we used a paper towel roll instead of rolled up newspaper. I dislocated a finger doing this. Good times indeed.
Kids these days...such a bunch of pussies they are.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 10:42 AM on July 20, 2006


NationalKato, I did, with a religious group -- in the pitch-black, preferably with many obstacles and flights of stairs. It was called Romans & Christians, and it's one of the games I remember most fondly.

Our school wouldn't let us play dodgeball, so the gym teacher came up with a complicated and equally violent variation called Trench ("See, sir, it's not dodgeball! It's Trench!"). Did he get it from somewhere else, or invent it?
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:44 AM on July 20, 2006


Oh yeah, booksandlibretti, we played it in the dark. And usually near a forest, which resulted in many scratches, scrapes, and tree limb injuries.
posted by NationalKato at 10:49 AM on July 20, 2006


I've never tried it outside, but it sounds like a beautiful thing. Did your version involve a goal for the escaping prisoners? Ours was an inverted flashlight -- prisoners won if they all surrounded the flashlight, jailers won if they confiscated the flashlight or jailed all the prisoners at once.
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:51 AM on July 20, 2006


Oh, and did anyone ever play Prison Break, or any variation thereof, where one team had to free 'captured' members from a jail, which was guarded by opponents, while the remaining opponents hunted you down?

We called that "Manhunt", where one team would hide, and the other team had to find them. As you found people they went to "Jail". If someone on the captured person's team ran up and touched "Jail" (as it was guarded), it freed everyone in jail. When the whole team was caught, they switched roles.
posted by stifford at 10:51 AM on July 20, 2006


I remember a frisbee game called "Headhunter", wherein you threw the frisbee and tried to hit the person in the head. I have a vivid memory of seeing one of my throws nail some guy in the windpipe, and being really pleased with that.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:57 AM on July 20, 2006


We played this "smear the queer", though the game never had a name. It was generally played when we got bored with our game of (un-padded, full tackle) football. It was started by the new bully in grade 4 and he would generally toss the ball to someone he didn't like and everyone would chase and beat down that person. I don't recall any injuries but I do remember the day I stood up to the bully and he lost a lot of his power over the class.

In high school, we played a variation of this "wall ball" game but with a hacky sack.

It was called "Kill" and involved playing kicking the foot bag around the circle as per normal until someone made a mistake. The mistake-maker had to put his hands against the wall while whoever retrieved the bag got to throw it as hard as he could at the mistake-maker's backside. If the thrower missed, then so be it, the other guy lucked out. Often though, he did not miss.
posted by utsutsu at 10:58 AM on July 20, 2006


We played a variant on what that Wikipedia article calls Ball Tag. We called it Hammer Tag and used the hard rubber hand grip from a bicycle as the object. The person who was 'It' had nail someone in the head with that grip to get him to be 'It'. Welts and black eyes were pretty much the rule. It's really sort of amazing that any of us actually managed to grow up without major brain damage given the general lack of regard for self-preservation that we had a kids.
posted by octothorpe at 10:59 AM on July 20, 2006


At my elementary, they banned wall ball because the ball would go on the roof sometimes. This kid Joe got hit below the eye with a frisbee and started crying and ran to tell a teacher. No more frisbees.

Then they banned hopscotch because it involved throwing rocks.

I'm not making this up.
posted by jon_kill at 11:01 AM on July 20, 2006


I also played manhunt... except there was only one person on the 'hunted' side. That player had his hand tied behind his back, and he tried to sneak into 'safe' territory before being caught.

I think people are way too concerned about the children. Children get hurt all the time... it's the result of rough play and accidents. I remember having scraped elbows and knees every week from falling down while running/biking/playing/etc. Kids are pretty resilient and can come back from a lot of injuries.
posted by triolus at 11:03 AM on July 20, 2006


Why isn't kiss chase listed among the tag variants? My grade school had to ban that one, as it tended to make the less attractive girls cry.

In 1st grade, every so often, the girls would scream "BOYS SEASON!" and chase us around the playground trying to kiss us. It was kind of horrifying then, but I could handle a revival now.
posted by jonmc at 11:04 AM on July 20, 2006


We played all these games, except instead of wallball it was just called chicken. The best games were 2 dodgeball themed ones: pins and people, and greatest american hero. With pins and people, it was dodgeball rules but with a bunch of thin pins along your back line, and you couldnt let them get knocked over or your team loses. Greatest American Hero is also dodgeball rules, but when you get hit, you sit down in place, and the 'hero' on your team can tag you, allowing you to play again. It was always fun faking like you're the hero, or not standing up right away to not give the real hero away. Good times!
posted by Mach5 at 11:04 AM on July 20, 2006


Sometime in the mid 70s a game called "Man or Mouse" took over my junior high school. Using one finger, one student would start lightly scratching another student on bare skin, usually the top of the hand on a knuckle. Periodically, the scratcher would ask "man or mouse?" Saying mouse would stop the torture but would reveal you as a coward. Eventually a one-inch bloody gash would form, but the scratching continued as long as you remained a man. Pretty soon half the kids in school were walking around with nasty scabs. The tougher kids had dozens of them. The game was banned but that just made it more appealing.

Has anyone else heard of this insane game or was it local to the dumbasses in Seabrook, Texas?
posted by king walnut at 11:05 AM on July 20, 2006


Hammer Tag - nice
posted by Flashman at 11:07 AM on July 20, 2006


Jailbreak/Invasion we called Capture the Flag in rural BC. We loved it and played obsessively. There were two main variants a)everyone has a flag and you have to try to steal it off each other or b) each team had a flag which they hid. The opposing team would have to try to find it and steal it while avoiding being taken prisoner.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:09 AM on July 20, 2006


There were also 2 other dodgeball variations we played in school:

Scatterball: 3-5 Balls in play at once, No sides or boundaries. It was chaos and it was great. the last person left was the winner.

Snakeball: No sides, but there was boundaries (the gym floor). When someone was out, they had to sit down. But, if a person with the ball got touched by someone sitting, they had to sit down, and the "snake" got to go back into the game. You had to dodge the thrown balls, as well as people swiping at your legs.
posted by stifford at 11:11 AM on July 20, 2006


jack_mo: I totally want to play that now. And I'm almost 30 myself.

stinky_cheese: The windpipe hit was well known, and that was an instant loss of all lives (well, points - they usually ended up OK) for the person hit. It was a highly cherished throw, but unfortunately would generally end the game prematurely.
posted by MysticMCJ at 11:13 AM on July 20, 2006


+++ ATH0 NO CARRIER.

Classic, old school. Nerd. Go outside and play bugbread. ;-)
posted by damclean2 at 11:16 AM on July 20, 2006


We used to play butts up/suicide/killer/whatever you call it with a golf ball if we were feeling hardcore. With stakes that high we almost never missed catches.
posted by Prospero at 11:18 AM on July 20, 2006


In elementary school we played "Boys Chase Girls." Much like its name, the only rule was to catch the girls. I used to be excellent at it... nowadays, not so much.
posted by yeti at 11:21 AM on July 20, 2006


In 1st grade, every so often, the girls would scream "BOYS SEASON!" and chase us around the playground trying to kiss us.

Boys season! I love it!

Every year before field day, my elementary school's gym coach would relate to us awful tales about children's hands being ripped clean off because they tried to cheat at Tug of War by wrapping the rope around their wrists.

I lost several teeth to Red Rover, but my only serious childhood injury was inflicted by a rogue piano.
posted by Marit at 11:35 AM on July 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


king walnut, we played a variation of that game, but used those hard plastic combs with the handle on them (usually seen in Jordache jeans in the 80s). Kids would rake the teeth of the comb across your knuckles until you either bled, cried 'Uncle,' or a teacher caught you.
posted by NationalKato at 11:36 AM on July 20, 2006


Banned grade school games:

"Pencil Break": take turns trying to break each other's pencils.

"Slaps": hold hands out, palms up. opponent hovers hands palms down over yours. you try and slap their hands as hard as you can. If you miss (they are allowed to move) then it is your turn to get slapped until THEY miss.

"Girl tag": this was like regular tag, but if you took your shirt and stuck the bottom up through the neckhole to bare your midriff, you were a 'girl' and immune from getting tagged. Or vice-versa, i forget.

Also, not a game, but a practice: "tattoos" that were made by rubbing an eraser on your skin very very hard to make a sore spot. If you did it right, it would last for weeks before healing up.

Plus I remember winning a lot of school "funny money" that was handed out for grades and good behavior playing poker.

OT: In college: "Knife toss", each person catches a chunk of styrofoam out of the air with a knife, tossing it back and forth. Quit after accidently letting go of the knives several times. also: "Who can fit this big plastic John Lennon figurine deepest in their mouth and still get it out?" (this one actually hurt really bad.)
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:47 AM on July 20, 2006


I played Agawan Base, a Filipino variant of Capture the Flag/Jailbreak/Invasion, where the base was anything (tree, rock... we were poor, we didn't have a flag).

Interestingly, when enough of your teammates are captured they can form a line that extends from the enemy base close to the safety line, making rescue easier for the one captured last (to rescue everyone required touching the person at the far end of the human chain, at which point you might as well try for the base.

This game dominated 3rd - 6th grade.

There was also Statue, where you have an It who if they tag you you MUST freeze in place. If you move, you become It. An untagged player can unfreeze you by touching you. Game ends when an It succeeds in freezing everyone else.

Patintero was another fun one where you have equal teams of attackers and defenders. Attackers run from one end of an established space and back to base. The space is divided into lines of defense, creating a grid. Each defender took up line in that grid, so you had vertical and horizontal defenders. A defender must tag attackers trying to make their way across and back to base, but the defender can only move along their single axis in the grid and cannot leave that line. It's pretty fun when the squares as small enough that an attacker has no safe zone in a square and has to do a lot of fancy footwork and ducking when every side has a defender trying to get you.

In truth, very few Filipino kids games were "violent". Stuff like Red Rover and Bulldog seem to evolve into something like Break the Chain, which is a game that requires observation versus brute strength (the chain was ringed and there was a weak link passed by clenching a clasped hand -- the rover had to detect that weak link, slap the offending hand, and in so doing, break the chain).

Then again, there's a game like Takip Silim, which is plainly It. Blindfolded. Other players make noises to attract or distract the It. You can imagine the potential damage that can be done to a blind It in this game.
posted by linux at 11:49 AM on July 20, 2006


Stifford: Red Ace / Red Ass! At least that's what we used to call it when I was in elementary school. I remember vaguely that because of the number of people that got hurt, teachers started to get us just by using the words.
posted by phyrewerx at 11:52 AM on July 20, 2006


Oh, man. Executioner Dodgeball! Buncha kids line up against the wall where they are pelted by those stiff red rubber balls. A hit on an arm or leg deprives you of use of that limb. A head or chest shot kills you. Have pity for the poor lads, expertly whittled down to just a torso left leaning against the wall, waiting for that one well placed sniper shot that would strike them in the face.

This evolved to just plain 'Sniper' for which the only way of being 'out' was to hit in the head.

The only game that got banned in my school was one of my own creation that involved yelling "Incoming!" then diving beneath the tire swing before elbow crawling to safety.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:58 AM on July 20, 2006


I remember a big metal merry-go-round that got chained up and eventually removed because kids kept crawling under it while it was going.

ok, no more nostalgia dump from me.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:04 PM on July 20, 2006


Obviously they've never played "Danger" nor "Hunting Frisbee".
posted by dreamsign at 12:09 PM on July 20, 2006


Just the simple mud ball wars for me. Yep. Gangs of kids, a field of weeds, plucked with mud at the end and thrown as hard as possile at the other team. Or your own tem. Or anyone close by...
posted by cccorlew at 12:12 PM on July 20, 2006


Did anyone play butt's up?

Throw a tennis pall against the side of the building, catch it and throw again. If it hits you, you have to run and touch the wall before another player whips the ball at you as hard as possible? If he hits you, you get an out. If you make it to the wall first, no out--but you still get hit with a tennis ball in the back.

If you get 3 outs, you stand against the wall, spread eagle, facing wall (butt's up, as it were). The person who gave you the last out throws at you from a pre-determined position. If he hits you, you are out of the game.

Sounds pretty sadistic in retrospect, but fun in elementary school.
posted by FeldBum at 12:19 PM on July 20, 2006


When I started taking improv classes, we had a great game called "Kitty Wants the Corner"... A circle of chairs, with everyone sitting in - facing the center. In the center of the circle was the "kitty", who would go around to random sitters saying "Kitty wants the corner." The sitter's response was "Go ask my neighbor." While this was going on, people across the circle were to make eye contact and agree to switch places. It was kitty's job to steal their chair.

Once your butt left the seat, you couldn't return to your old chair, so some of the more vindictive players would fake getting up for a switch and then strand the one who actually got up, making them the new kitty.

We bent so many chair legs over that game.
posted by ArsncHeart at 12:26 PM on July 20, 2006


Eponysterical, FeldBum!
posted by jack_mo at 12:29 PM on July 20, 2006


Flashman writes "No snowball fights?
"That was the only game that was banned at my Ontario elementary school."


My interior BC elementry school too, someone got a rock chip in their eye at a different school and snowball throwing was banned forever. And we were required to play rugby, dodgeball and Red Rover/Bulldog. I don't remember kick ball being all that dangerous though.

bugbread writes "In my neighborhood, we
"+++ ATH0 NO CARRIER."


I never thought I'd see another on topic no carrier joke, that was excellent bugbread.

Winter comes early and stays late in Canada during the winter. We used to extend the frisbee season by opening activated light sticks and then pouring the liquid on the frisbee. The liquid would stick in the ridges fairly well but stained your hands as well.
posted by Mitheral at 12:43 PM on July 20, 2006


There was also Statue, where you have an It who if they tag you you MUST freeze in place. If you move, you become It. An untagged player can unfreeze you by touching you.
We had this in my neighborhood, but to unfreeze the person you had to crawl between the person's legs. That led to several instances of a headbutt to the nuts.

In high school we had "battle hack", it was something like three people had to make contact a certaing number of times without dropping it. When the magic number was reached whoever caught it threw it as hard as possible as everyone scrambled to get away. This also led to people being so frantic to escape that on occasion someone would trip and do a face plant in the parking lot.

in elementary school did you call it "duck, duck, grayduck" or "duck, duck, goose". in the midwest it was grayduck, everywhere else seems to be goose.
posted by andywolf at 12:50 PM on July 20, 2006


Mitheral writes "Winter comes early and stays late in Canada during the winter"

Darkness comes early and stays late ...
posted by Mitheral at 1:00 PM on July 20, 2006


"No snowball fights?
"That was the only game that was banned at my Ontario elementary school."


Ah the memories. Best when neighbourhood-wide snowball wars would erupt, complete with skulking through yards and staging attacks on enemy positions. Epic.
posted by dreamsign at 1:26 PM on July 20, 2006


We had Tron too. In our variant, each person had a frisbee. You could hit a person if they had their frisbee in their hands, or it was still in the air. You could use your own frisbee to block those thrown at you.
The best game ever was the day we found the drained swimming pool.
That was also the last game after the kid with the religious nutso parents got a black eye. (Bank shot off the wall)
posted by Eddie Mars at 1:39 PM on July 20, 2006


The only games that were really scary were the BB gun wars (no shooting above the waist, but no eye protection either) and the dried clay bomb wars in which you lobbed large chunks of dried clay at each other; it could literally have you seeing stars and it's a wonder no one got a concussion. All the rest, like Red Rover, were just testaments to how tough kids bodies really are, thank God.
posted by caddis at 1:44 PM on July 20, 2006


laser tag was fucking brutal, as was flash lightsaber duels.
posted by andywolf at 1:58 PM on July 20, 2006


and the dried clay bomb wars in which you lobbed large chunks of dried clay at each other

And when you got a bit older, bottle rockets (Christ, we were stupid.)
posted by Cyrano at 1:59 PM on July 20, 2006


well, yeah, we did the bottle rockets too, but they really aren't that dangerous (God, I hope my kids aren't reading this). A tent pole pushed through the side of an empty beer can makes a great bottle rocket gun, with the can as the handle. Stand about 20 paces apart and commence firing.
posted by caddis at 2:08 PM on July 20, 2006


Of course there are roman candle wars, if you have the safety gear (garbage can lid shields).

Though it wasn't pretty when Tattoo Tim took one in the head...
posted by dreamsign at 2:09 PM on July 20, 2006


A tent pole pushed through the side of an empty beer can makes a great bottle rocket gun

We used those yellow wiffle-ball Bats, you just put the bottle rocket stick in the hole at the top of the bat.
posted by stifford at 2:13 PM on July 20, 2006


Ahh, Red Rover...the true uniter of my elementary school playground. Once other kids saw that you were playing it, everyone would rush over and join a side. The best strategy for me involved belly flopping onto the arms of the two people I'd chosen and swinging back and forth until something gave. I wish I could have played that game when I was older and considerably fatter, as I could have done some real damage. :> Pre-puberty I was a pretty tiny kid all around, so for the most part I couldn't break the chain when I got picked, and wound up with on the recieving end of a lot of minor wrist injures back then.

Capture the Flag was the most fun to play though. Played the same as the aforementioned "Prison Break" but with each team having a "flag" (usually someone's sweater) in their own endzones that the other team tried to steal and make it back to their own endzones with. Another game that would be really fun to try as an adult. We just need to find a bunch of those little belts with the flags on them and we should be set for a meetup!

Not that dangerous games ended with elementary school though. One game that stood out (and was eventually banned) when I was in seventh grade was "Quarters". You sat around a desk and someone starts to spin a quarter. Everyone takes a turn trying to keep the quarter spinning by gently flicking it with their fingers. And if you can't keep the quarter spinning you had to face punishment. This involved the loser placing their fists on the table and letting the person across from them send a quarter zipping across the table like an air hockey puck into their knuckles. The game was usually played until someone started to bleed, at which point the teacher usually noticed and put and end to the game.

There were a lot of kids walking around with some nasty scabs on their knuckles that year.
posted by kosher_jenny at 2:40 PM on July 20, 2006


"There was also Statue, where you have an It who if they tag you you MUST freeze in place. If you move, you become It. An untagged player can unfreeze you by touching you. Game ends when an It succeeds in freezing everyone else."

You mean "Freeze Tag"?

""Slaps": hold hands out, palms up. opponent hovers hands palms down over yours. you try and slap their hands as hard as you can. If you miss (they are allowed to move) then it is your turn to get slapped until THEY miss."

Yeah, but if you move like you're going to slap them and they jerk their hands off without you going for the slap, then you get to lick your index and middle fingers and slap the underside of their wrist.

We had a couple of other dodgeball variants that I haven't seen here, including one where you'd throw the ball (or bounce it as high as possible) and everyone would have to freeze once someone caught it. The person would then get three steps to wind up and whip the ball at someone else, that person being out if they got hit and didn't catch it. We'd also play where you'd have everyone running back and forth between two walls while someone in the middle whipped a ball at them. If you got hit, you had to sit and you'd then try to grab the legs of folks running from one safe side to the other.

For a final thought— how did you guys play Bloody Knuckles? The Wikipedia explanation is all wrong. I know that ours had some sort of card game attached to it (the rules of which I can't remember), but the penalty was getting hit on the knuckles with the edge of a pack of cards. First one to bleed was obviously gay.
posted by klangklangston at 2:59 PM on July 20, 2006


We had a couple of other dodgeball variants that I haven't seen here, including one where you'd throw the ball (or bounce it as high as possible) and everyone would have to freeze once someone caught it. The person would then get three steps to wind up and whip the ball at someone else, that person being out if they got hit and didn't catch it.

I've played that, it was called SPUD (why, I don't know). You threw the ball in the air, and when someone caught it, everyone froze. The person with the ball then took four steps (spelling out S-P-U-D), and then had to throw the ball at someone (you could pivot around, but had to leave one foot in place).
posted by stifford at 3:09 PM on July 20, 2006


One game that stood out (and was eventually banned) when I was in seventh grade was "Quarters". You sat around a desk and someone starts to spin a quarter. Everyone takes a turn trying to keep the quarter spinning by gently flicking it with their fingers. And if you can't keep the quarter spinning you had to face punishment. This involved the loser placing their fists on the table and letting the person across from them send a quarter zipping across the table like an air hockey puck into their knuckles. The game was usually played until someone started to bleed, at which point the teacher usually noticed and put and end to the game.

Heh. We always referred to that (quite appropriately) as "Bloody Knuckles". Though I guess using that term makes the nature of the game a little less discrete to anyone in charge who might overhear...
posted by Stauf at 3:13 PM on July 20, 2006


Yeah, “Smear the Queer” never had any anti-homosexual overtones in my neighborhood. Although we did update the name to the more apt: “Kill the guy with the ball.” Bottle rocket wars were great, never thought of using garbage can lids as sheilds though.
One very cool thing one of my neighbors did for the kids was to mow a maze in their lawn. Playing tag in that was great.

...Or we’d play Tlachtli and sacrifice the neighbor kids to Huitzilopochtli.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:13 PM on July 20, 2006


did this make anyone long for the glory days of the brunching shuttlecocks? lore coulda done it better...
posted by es_de_bah at 4:02 PM on July 20, 2006


I'm surprised nobody has mentioned midnight football.

Take a roll of toilet paper wrapped in duct tape, a room with no windows or covered windows at night, and two teams. when the lights are off, it is a basic game of American football with the opposing walls as the end zones. When the lights are on, everybody must freeze, and anybody who moves is placed on the sidelines.

the strategy was to either just hurt people in the dark, or to get your opponents off balance and keep them there until the lights came on. You let go. They fall, and are eliminated.

It is an exceedingly violent game because you have complete deniability so you can just pummel people with no fear of retribution.
posted by Megafly at 4:09 PM on July 20, 2006


we had a game known as 'Pac-Man Pinball.'

We had a similar game at my middle school in Portland, except there was one pin for each team. Regular dodgeball rules applied if anybody got hit. I think the pin was added to speed up the game (you only had to thin the other team out until you had a clear shot at the pin instead of playing until the last guy got out).
posted by concrete at 4:09 PM on July 20, 2006


My high school band had a tag variation called "hug tag" that was a good ice-breaker type of game at the beginning of the year. You need an even number of people, the more the better. One person is It, like in regular tag, but the other people can be safe from being tagged by hugging someone. This leaves one person without a hug partner at any given time, but they can "bump" someone out of a hug to save themselves, forcing the bumpee to find a new hug partner to bump.

Yes, terribly nerdy, and terribly fun for all the awkward band kids (like me).
posted by cathodeheart at 4:28 PM on July 20, 2006


There was a game called Squirrel that lasted a few weeks at my grade school before some poor soul experienced 'the rupture'.
posted by tgyg at 4:48 PM on July 20, 2006


Sometime in the mid 70s a game called "Man or Mouse" took over my junior high school.

In Grand Rapids Michigan, late 70s-early 80s we had such a game. I was also in middle school. It was not called "Man or Mouse", and it's killing me that I can't remember the name. It was a pencil eraser on the back of the hand, which didn't seem like much as it was happening. Then, you had an inch-long pink stripe that hurt like hell, and hurt even worse the next day as it started to heal over and stung every time you'd bend your hand.
posted by glycolized at 5:02 PM on July 20, 2006


Also snowballing, where the snowball concealed either a block of solid ice or a stone.
posted by Joeforking at 5:20 PM on July 20, 2006


For those who have spent some childhood years in Japan, don't forget about Kancho.
posted by dreamsign at 5:45 PM on July 20, 2006


This is a game I've only actually played as an adult, but it fits. It's called "Stupidity." Two players flip a quarter. The winner punches the loser in a location determined before the flip.

I'm surprised no one's mentioned "Mercy". Interlace fingers (either both players' strong hands, both players' weak hands, or all four hands). Try to bend the other player's fingers backwards until one of you can't take the pain and says "Mercy." You could win through strength or through the ability to endure pain.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:03 PM on July 20, 2006


Mercy was more my junior high years than grade school.

I either won or tied through my ability to endure pain and my proportionately large hands.

But my favorite junior high game was table surfing. I was good enough at it that to get me to fall required turning the two people holding the table up turned it on its side to topple me.
posted by linux at 6:48 PM on July 20, 2006


I had just blocked out all memories prior to age 13 and this post brought them all back. thanks. time to repress some more!
posted by killy willy at 6:59 PM on July 20, 2006


Did (or do) any of you guys play Brandings? The one game you have to play if it's raining.

It's pretty much tag, except whoever is 'it' has to carry a tennis ball. He 'tags' someone by pegging the ball at someone else as hard as possible. Remember, it has to be raining.

I also remember another game we used to play at my high school. See, we worked out a way to get into the Maths rooms with a metal ruler, and on that day, Chair Bowling was invented.

All you need is:
1 chair
1 stack of chairs
Frustration to take out on the stack of chairs.

Then it later it was discovered that the one chair was unnecessary, when one could simply crash tackle the stack.

Ahhh, all boys public high school, how I miss thee. Oh look, it's raining today.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 9:44 PM on July 20, 2006


Heh. I lived in the desert. We used rocks instead of snowballs. I still don't understand how so much pain was so much fun.
posted by Hicksu at 11:24 PM on July 20, 2006


Smear the Queer I played at an age when I was only vaguely aware of what a "queer" might be, and "Kill the Carrier" was definitely an alternative name.

Surprised not to see "Camel Fights" here, which is "Swimming Pool Chicken" from the article, but not in a pool, on open ground, one kid on the other kids shoulders, no holds barred, but no hard punching was used either. Wasn't hard to land on your head as I recall (hmm, explains a lot, really.)
posted by telstar at 2:41 AM on July 21, 2006


I surprised nobody mentioned buck buck, as immortalized by Bill Cosby. You do WWF-style flying leaps in order to make a pile of the other team members collapse into a heap on the ground. You can do some serious damage playing that.
posted by jonp72 at 9:11 AM on July 21, 2006


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