Hide-and-seek, or hide-and-go-seek, is a popular children's game in which any number of players (ideally at least three) conceal themselves in a set environment, to be found by one or more seekers. The game is played by one player chosen (designated as being "it") closing their eyes and counting to a predetermined number while the other players hide. After reaching this number, the player who is "it" calls "Ready or not, here I come!" and then attempts to locate all concealed players.
A 19th-century painting of three children playing hide and seek in a forest (Friedrich Eduard Meyerheim)
|Setup time||about 90 seconds|
|Playing time||no limit|
|Random chance||Very low|
|Skill(s) required||Running, tracking, hiding, observation, ability to stay silent|
The game can end in one of several ways. In the most common variation of the game, the player chosen as "it" locates all players as the players are not allowed to move; the player found last is the winner and is chosen to be "it" in the next game. Another common variation has the seeker counting at "home base"; the hiders can either remain hidden or they can come out of hiding to race to home base; once they touch it, they are "safe" and cannot be tagged. In Ohio, a hider must yell "free" when he touches base or he can still be tagged out. But if the seeker tags another player before reaching home base, that person becomes "it." or "the seeker."
Different versions of the game are played around the world, under a variety of names.
One derivative in game is called "Sardines", in which only one person hides and the others must find them, hiding with them when they do so. The hiding places become progressively more cramped, like sardines in a tin. The last person to find the hiding group is the loser and subsequently the hider for the next round. This game is best played at night in a big area like a park, or in a dark room or just regular lighting inside as traditional hide and seek is played. A. M. Burrage calls this version of the game "Smee" in his 1931 ghost story of the same name.
In some versions of the game, after the first player is caught or if not any other players can be found over a period of time, "it" calls out a pre-agreed phrase (such as "Olly olly oxen free", or "All in, All in, Everybody out there all in free") to signal the other hiders to return to base for the next round. In another version, when players are caught they help the "it" seek out others. The original term is "All ye all ye, come for free". Over the years this term has taken on various phrases, the most popular is "Olly olly oxen free".
In one variant, once all hiders have been located, the game then becomes a game of tag where the "it" chases after all the other players and the first person tagged becomes the "it".
In another, the hiders who are found help the "it" track down the remaining hiders, but the first person to be found becomes the next "it."
In another variant the game is called "Chase". It is however team based and plays only after dusk. Two teams—the hiders and the seekers—are each composed of two or more players. There is a central home base (a.k.a safe) from which the seekers count and hiders must return to without being tagged by a seeker in order to be considered "free" to hide again. All players dress in black. No flashlights are allowed. The only lights in the playing field are those from street lamps or natural lighting. The goal is for the hiders to take advantage of camouflage of the shadows in the surrounding area. The game is meant to be stealth. When a hider is caught—tagged by a seeker—the hider does not get to hide again and must remain on home base. If a hider returns home "free" without being tagged they can hide again in the next round representing their team. When all hiders are caught then the hiders become the seekers and the seekers become the hiders. Hiders cannot leave the boundaries of the playing field or else are immediately "caught" or "out" from the round. The origins of this version arose in Greece, New York, in 1976 and had a large following through the end of 1989. Its popularity waned in the 1990s as parents began worrying about adolescent safety at night.
In some parts of Australia, the game is called "44 Homes". The hiders hide until they are spotted by the seeker, who chants, "Forty, Forty, I see you" (sometimes shortened to "Forty, forty, see you"). Once spotted, the hider must run to "home base" (where the "it" was counting while the other players hid) and touch it before they are "tipped" (tagged, or touched) by the seeker. If tagged, that hider becomes the new "it."
In North India, hide-and-seek is played differently – if any of the 'hiders' touches the seeker and says 'Dhappa', then the seeker has to count again. However, if the seeker sees the hider before they manage to sees (find) him/her and say "I Spies" and has to find all participants, then if he finds all hiders without being touched by all hider then the first hider spotted will be 'it' the next round, unless some other hider manages to 'Dhappa' the seeker without being seen. Most of Rural places uses Chappa and icepies ( I spies). But now, might be in urban setup, instead of doing Dhappa on the "IT"s body, hiders can do dhappa where the "it" counts. The "it" is simply called as "Dianer" (daa-ee-nuh-rr); and the dianers takes a dian.(count)
In Brazil and Russia, hide-and-seek has an extra step. The "it" starts counting with eyes closed and facing the wall while everyone hides. Once the "it" finds someone, they must race to the spot where the "it" was originally counting and facing the wall and whoever touches that spot first, wins the game. This is also sometimes played by other countries.
Hide and Go Seek in the dark is another variant that is very self explanatory. You play hide and go seek at night in a park or field or in a house at night with the lights off.
Hide and seek world championship officially named "Nascondino World Championship" is the unique international hide-and-seek competition, a team play for adults, with non-diversified categories by gender. Born in 2010 in the Italian city of Bergamo, it is held annually in Italy, in summer. The game is a derivative of the Italian version of hide and seek, "nascondino" (hide-and-seek in Italian), and takes place on a playground in the open air, set up with artificial and natural hideouts. The seventh competition took place in September 2017, with 70 teams from 11 countries.
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- The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories, OUP 1986.
- Ollie Ollie oxen free, World Wide Words, Michael Quinion
- Darian-Smith K, Logan W, Seal G (2011). "44 Home - Hiding Game". Childhood, Tradition and Change. Australia. Retrieved 2017-07-03.
Media related to Hide and seek at Wikimedia Commons