20 Scary Games To Play From Childhood That Will Still Freak You Out Today

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scary games to play
Self

Play at your own risk.

Are you brave enough for Bloody Mary? Do you have the courage for Charlie Charlie? You might have as a kid, and now you're old enough to know better.

But there's always that part of you to believe there's something to all the demon summoning and sooth-saying. Here are 20 scary games to play... if you think you can handle it.

1. Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board

There are a lot of things that went on at sleepovers that I'm glad I didn't think much about when I was at them. This is a game where one person pretends to be dead while everyone else chants "light as a feather, stiff as a board" demonically while they make her levitate. Creepy, right?

Creepier still is that this game actually works, and you can get the "dead" person pretty high off the ground. And knowing my friends, if we played this today, someone's getting dropped onto the ground. There's no getting around at least some sort of minor back injury, and that’s a terrifying thought.


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2. Bloody Mary

You know there's nothing to it — you could chant Bloody Mary's name until you turned blue and no one more interesting than your crazy-ass self would be staring back through that mirror. But what if?

The whole point of this scary game is to prove you don't believe it's possible to summon a vengeful, murderous witch by something so silly as chanting in front of a mirror. But the game's been around forever. So maybe there is some truth to it?

3. The Candyman

A lot of people think this is the same thing as Bloody Mary, and well... they're mostly right. But it's Bloody Mary with a twist. First off, you have to say The Candyman's name five times. Then, he'll only kill you if he catches you before you turn a light on. (Presumably, he'll also be very upset if you mention the questionable 1992 movie about him, and he'll kill you regardless of whether you get to the light or not.)

As an adult, I know I'm not as agile as I used to be, and I seem to have forgotten where half my light switches are. So if the Candyman shows up in the mirror at midnight, I'd probably be a little thrilled and also a lot dead.

4. Ouija

Sure, we all know it's just a mass-manufactured board game sold in Toys-R-Us (while there still was Toys-R-Us). And I'm definitely guilty of being the one moving the indicator (c'mon, we all did it). But then, don't you kinda want to believe you can use a Ouija board to reach out to the other side?

If I were a spirit, I'd totally mess with a group of grownups who pulled out the Ouija board. It's still a scary game to play today because you're just asking for trouble.

5. Concentrate

Another creepy sleepover game that now makes me question if I understood what fun was as a kid. You close your eyes and sit on the ground while your friend recites a dark poem about people dying and babies crying, imitates murdering you in various ways, and then pushes you over.

By the end, you're supposed to have gotten into a trance that will allow you to see how you will die

6. The Corner Game

This isn't a game so much as it is a summoning ritual. You and three friends each stand in a corner of an empty room with the lights turned off, do a series of moves, and hope that a) no one disappears, and b) a ghost doesn't show up.

Apparently, it's a good way to draw demons out of your ceilings, since seeing the people moving from corner to corner intrigues them. Read that last sentence again — there are DEMONS in your CEILINGS, and just moving around the corners of your rooms makes them appear. Not at all terrifying, I swear.

7. Three Kings

Three Kings is a scary game to play when you have questions that Google can't answer. You set up three chairs in your basement: one is "the throne" where you sit, and the other two hold mirrors for "queen" and "fool" spirits to enter by.

After summoning the demons, you have exactly one hour and one minute to ask questions. All silly fun, except for one catch: you need a partner to call you back to the real world when your time is up. Nothing like admitting to a friend you need demonic therapy.

8. Don't Look Behind You

Another scary game in the basement-demon-summoning-for-questions genre. For this one, you light a candle and set it up behind three chairs, where you and two friends sit. Then you invite the demons to join you, but promise you won't look at them (hence the name of the game).

Don't Look Behind You's rules are pretty genius in freaking you out, and laughing is a big no-no. If you don't take the game seriously, the demon will kill you. And obviously you'll be dying to look behind you, but if you do, the demon will attack.

9. Charlie Charlie

Sometimes known as The Pencil Game, Charlie Charlie is a way to contact a specific ghost, a little boy named named — you guessed it — Charlie. The kid is kind of like a spirit version of a Magic 8 Ball, except that if Charlie doesn't want to play with you, he'll try to stab you with one of the pencils you need for the game. Lovely.

10. Red Door Yellow Door

This is a game that definitely gets scarier the older you are. It's basically a guided meditation through the deepest parts of your brain. You visualize your mind as a long corridor with multiple doors, and you choose which ones to open.

I know I've got some downright vile stuff bouncing around my head, and I don't care to open any of that up, thank you very much.


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11. Dry Bones

Dry Bones is all about hiding. You ask a deadly spirit into your house, and then try to hide from him until 3 AM. If you make it, your wish will be granted. If you don't, well... you don't make it.

It's scary if he shows up, but it's also scary if he doesn't, because you just sat alone, in the dark, in your house, until 3 AM. And you've got stuff to do tomorrow. That's called being an adult.

12. Hide and Seek Alone

Popularized in Japan, this game is simple: hide in a closet and ask if something wants to take you into the darkness. If you hear something, light a match and run away. If you don’t hear anything, I’d still light a match and run away. Because if you do hear something and don't light a match and run away, you get pulled into eternal darkness forever.

The fear factor is pretty high with this: you have to find a closet you can fit in without claustrophobia setting in, there's the chance you'll accidentally light yourself on fire in said claustrophobic space, and on top of that there's the usual fear of dealing with a demonic spirit you've summoned for kicks in the middle of the night.

13. The Elevator Game

A game about pushing buttons and following directions should be right up the alley of most adults. If you think about it, most jobs today are just following directions and pushing buttons.

But it's pretty rare for data entry to result in portals to other worlds and creepy little girls in white dresses hoping for the chance to eat a human soul. As an added disturbing bonus, this is rumored to be the game that Elisa Lam was playing prior to her untimely death.

14. Tjuri-rura

This one's a little easier: you just need a comb, a crossroads and nighttime. Run the comb over your teeth to make some noise, and then say "Tjuri-rura, tjuri-rua, grant me a true response." 

If a stranger approaches you, ask them your fortune. Presumably the stranger is unearthly and terrifying, but you're supposed to hide your face when they approach, so it's tough to tell.

15. Ritual Animal Mutilation

Definitely still terri— wait, what? You didn't play this as a kid? Huh.

16. The Answer Man

This game might be a little less freaky, since it requires 10 people to play. Safety in numbers, right? You all stand in a circle, and everyone calls the person to their left, making sure you all hit send at the same time. Most everyone will get a busy signal, but if you're lucky, someone will get through to The Answer Man.

For every question you ask him, he can ask you one in return. And if he doesn't like your answer, it won't be pretty, no matter how many friends are around.

17. 7 Minutes in Heaven

As a kid, this game was scary to play for all kinds of reasons. What if you didn't get picked? What if you did? What exactly are you supposed to do in there?

Now, a lot of the ambiguity around 7 Minutes in Heaven is gone, but it's still got plenty of potential to freak you out. Now there are grownup worries, like gonorrhea.

18. Red Rover

This game was fun as a child, but there's a major difference playing it now as adults. We're bigger and fatter and stronger. Now, playing Red Rover is basically just a recipe for torn rotator cuffs, dislocated shoulders, and ruined friendships. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience...

19. Ring Around the Rosie

Don't laugh! It turns out this sweet game's lyrics are about everyone dying of the plague. Add in the thought of a group of adults holding hands, dancing, and chanting along together, and it's a grand old fright fest. Perfect for a Saturday evening cocktail party.

20. House

This was a fantastic game to play as a kid. You got to experience the joys of adulthood without any of the responsibility.

Now, when you play House, you're just doing the stuff you should be doing without doing it, which means your chores aren't getting done, your bills aren't being paid, and you'll be out on the street soon, where hopefully you can find a nice semi-clean refrigerator box to play house in full-time.


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Catherine LeFebvre is a writer and editor living in LA with her goldendoodle, Grover Cleveland. Her husband and son live with them too. She’s done time with Martha Stewart (here, not here), Food Network, and Nickelodeon. You can follow her on Instagram @discolefebvre.

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