Squid Game: these are the children's games they play in the series
The South Korean series 'Squid Game', by Hwang Dong-hyuk, is on its way to becoming the most successful production in the history of Netflix. Through the series is based on children's games, it introduces us to a cruel battle for survival... for a tempting financial prize.
In pure 'Hunger Games' style, 'Squid Game' introduces us to a story in which a bunch of people with economic problems end up involved in a battle to the death with six children's games deciding their fate, games that many of us have played when we were little. Let's see if you remember them...
In the series, the first of the games they face is 'Red Light, Green Light'. In it, a huge doll turns around, shielding her eyes against a tree. While reciting a short song, the players have to move and get to the finish. When the doll turns around, whoever has been caught moving and has not stopped dead in his tracks like a statue, loses: the game and their life. Does this game ring a bell?
This game is known all over the world, just called different names. We know it best as ‘Grandma’s Footsteps’ - the game in which you have to sneak up on grandma without her catching you moving. If you are caught moving, you have to go back to the start and try again. Of course, the version in the series is much more sinister.
The second game they have to face in the series is 'Honeycomb'. In this case, players are given a kind of cookie with a shape inside that they must cut out and remove from the base, without it breaking.
This is a children's game popular amongst children in South Korea and other parts of Asia, not so much something we have grown up with ourselves. As they do in the series, it consists of cutting out the figures found in these candies called ‘Dalgonas’, a well-known candy in the Asian continent made of sugar and baking soda. If the boy or girl managed to cut out the figure, they got another candy for free.
For the third game in the series, the participants are required to have strength and teamwork. Divided into two groups and standing on a bridge, they had to pull a rope, each to one side, until one of the teams beat the other by pulling them forward into the abyss… and death.
We call this game the ‘Tug of War’, though our version is slightly less 'war-like' than in the series. It was mainly popular at school sport’s days, with teams having to pull their opponents over a line. This popular game became an Olympic sport between 1900 and 1920. It's played by children and adults alike.
The fourth test which the characters of 'The Squid Game' have to face is a battle of marbles. In this game they play against each other, starting with ten marbles. The winner is the one who gets all ten of his opponent's marbles.
Marbles have been used in countless children's games all over the world because they can be made into any kind of game. There is even a British and World Marbles Championship - a marbles knock-out tournament - where people all over the globe participate to win the title. This takes place annually on Good Friday and dates back to 1588. The losers don’t face imminent death, however.
Coming closer to the end of 'Squid Game’, the contestants face their fifth test on a catwalk with two types of glass: tempered and normal. The tempered glass can withstand the weight of up to two people, but the normal glass breaks if only one person stands on it. The goal? To cross the catwalk and not fall into the void below, where the Squid Game's participants will surely meet their death.
The version of ‘Squid Game' is much more dangerous than the game on which it is based. It is 'Hopscotch': a traditional children's game in many countries and cultures, even though it has different names everywhere. You will all remember it: the children paint squares on the ground over which they either have to jump or step on, with one or two feet.
The last game in the series is the Squid Game. In it, the two finalists of this macabre spectacle will face each other to the death on a kind of floor mat in the shape of a squid. The perfect ending to this set of games could not have set the stakes any higher. It is based on South Korean children's tradition.
In the real game on which it is based, has the same name: Squid Game. Two teams, offensive and defensive, are formed, and they have to fight to keep their space on a squid-shaped court. The offensive team runs around the court with only one leg. They can use both if they break through the defence. Their aim is to step on the squid's head. The defensive team, on the other hand, uses both legs from the start and must get their opponents off the court. The nearest English game we could relate this to would be Bulldog - remember playing that in the playground?
The players of 'Squid Game' did not know beforehand which six games they had to play. However, there was a hidden clue! On the walls of their dormitory there is a series of minimalist drawings that, if you look closely, represent the trials they will have to face throughout the games.