Running Amok

by Bernie DeKoven on January 17, 2013

Many are the games that encourage running, slithering, and other forms of frenetic movement. Why? Because, apparently, it’s fun. Here we look at a few games that made their way to the core of the New Games repertoire.


We begin this exploration with a game called Snake in the Grass, a game, as you have obviously surmised, involving slithering.

A reasonably large circle is marked out, preferably in the grass, using cones or shoes or brightly colored rope or webbing – just large enough so there’s ample room to move, not so large that there’s enough room to run.

Players are standing around, about arm’s length from each other. One player is the snake. I’m not sure how he knows he’s the snake. Probably someone who is not playing informs him of his status.

As soon as the snake lies on the ground he begins to slither towards the other players, attempting to tag anyone he can. As soon as someone is tagged, she, too, becomes a snake. The game continues until only one player is standing. And then it starts again, all the other players standing, the last player from the previous round assuming the snake position.


Then, of course, there’s Blob Tag. Again you have a confined area whose boundaries are evident. Larger than a Snake pit, because people have to be able to run around a tad. Smaller than a Lemonade run, because you don’t want people running too far.

One player is IT. As soon as she tags someone, she and that person join hands. As soon as one of those two hand-joined people tag someone else, that player also joins the proverbial Blob. On and on until everybody but one is enblobbed. The Blob, if it so desires, can split into Bloblets of three or more, hence insuring the inevitably universal enblobment.


Similar in plot to Blob Tag, Octopus begins with one person IT. That person is equipped with a soft throwable object – a sock ball, Nerf Ball, plastic shopping bag ball, or the like.

There’s a clearly marked playing field of probably rectangular shape. Players assemble at one end of the field. They are the Fish. When they hear the Call of the Octopus, all Fish run to the other end of the field. The Octopus throws the ball-like thing at the closest Fleeing Fish, freezing the Fleeing Fish into Tentacularhood. The Octopus-head retrieves the throwing object. Throws it again. Attempting to freeze as many Fleeing Fish as possible.

Frozen, erstwhile Fleeing Fish are not as frozen as they seem. They have become Conceptual Tentacles. Should they happen to make contact with a Fleeing Fish, that Fish becomes yet another Conceptual Tentacle. And so, on and on, the Fleeing Fish fleeing from to to fro and back to to, more and more of them becoming Conceptual Tentacles. Until there are no more Fish to flee.


To Catch the Dragon’s Tail is to stand in a line, hands on the waist of the person in front of you. The last player in the line tucks a ribbon or T-shirt or sock into her waist at the middle of her back. The object is for the Head to catch the Tail. The rest of the players, always holding on to each other’s waist, try to protect the Tail from the Head. This is clearly beyond metaphor.

You can play with several Dragons, the object of one Dragon being to catch the Tail of another. You can also play a Dragonlet version of the game with three-person Dragons.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Karen Nelson August 9, 2013 at 1:42 am

I like the way you think! I will enjoy following this site! Thanks!

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