Chasing Games

aka: It, Tag, Tig, Tick (Liverpool), Catch

These games probably make up the greatest percentage of active games and for this reason have a separate page to themselves. Tag games certainly appear to be universally prevalent and popular with children. Is this possibly something to do with our ancestral heritage of being the hunter/gatherer inherent in our nature? I am just surmising, but as most games are just ways of learning and/or practicing skills. In this case "tags" or catch games can be seen as a way of practicing and learning the skills of hunting.

Catch games also take a variety of forms, but they all have one thing in common, "to catch other players by some means or other". 'Dodge ball' / 'knee ball' games are another form and have been given a separate page. Many of the 'Wide Games' also listed are based on tag games.


Tag / It / Tick / Tick / Catch 

Very simple and any number of people can play from two or more. One person is chosen to be "it". The objective is for the player who is "it" to catch somebody else who then becomes "It". Normally this is played using "touch tag", where a single touch or 'tag' is all that's need to say they've been caught. 

It's sometimes helpful to include a rule that the person just caught cannot immediately tag the person who just got them.

All in Tag

aka

Manhunt (Cited by Andrew Armitage)

Starts of with only one chaser, but from there on each person caught also becomes a catcher and helps to catch the others.

Anti-Tig.

Sent in by Andrew Watkins

Works like stuck-in-the-mud. but backwards. Everyone starts of being stuck with one person who is 'it' and free to move around. Each person he/she tags is then free to move - but their job is to then hang onto the person who is 'it' and try to slow them down. As more people get released more hang onto the tagger until he/she can no longer move. At this point they give up and call out the name of a new person to be 'it'. Everyone spreads out and the game starts again.

Blind Man’s Bluff

This best played in a small enclosed space and relatively free of obstacles, at least ones that could be dangerous. A player is chosen / volunteers to be the catcher and blindfolded.

Variations:

Block

This can only really be played in an area which provides lots of cover for players to hide. 

Players choose a base and one person to act as the 'blocker' who takes on the job of trying to stop the other players from reaching the base. The game starts as in hide and seek, by the blocker closing his/her eyes and counting to 10 to give the others a chance to hide. Players then have to try and get back to base before being caught or blocked.

The blocker is free to stay at the base or move away. If they see a player they have to block them by touching the base and shouting "1-2-3, I see <name of player seen>" before the player they've seen or any other player reaches home. Players once caught out by being blocked return home to await the end of the game or for a player who has not yet been blocked to reach the base without being blocked.

variation

Pig Pen wants a motion.

Sent in by Todd Moser, Fort Wayne, IN

"I really don't know where the title comes from."

Have a designated area, 'prison', where players who have been tagged have to stand. When players have been caught and put in "prison" they call out, "Pig-pen wants a motion."  If another player who is still hiding waves at them and they see that player, they can run away and hide again, provided they are not tagged as they leave. But if the player waving is seen by the person who is "It" they are caught and must come to the "prison".

Play until everyone is caught, the person playing "It" gives up or the games goes on for too long.

Chain Reaction

A game that's a useful model of chain reaction.

Children pair up with each other as in Elbow Tag, holding hands or linked arm in arm, and scatter around the playing field / area. One child is chosen to be IT (the chaser). When a pair is caught they split up and each of them then joins in as individuals to become a chaser. Once you become IT or a chaser you remain one for the remainder of the games. The game ends when there is no pairs left.

The Dark Game

AKA

Night Tag

Sent in by Marie Prichie

"...the dark game. It was invented by me and a few froends from church." (sic)

Play at night, switch off all the lights and close curtains etc so that the playing area is pitch black or as close to as possible. One player is 'IT' (the catcher) and counts to ten while the other players as silently as possible move away and hide. The person when they have finished counting then has to find and try and touch someone. First person touched becomes it.

Duck, Duck, Goose

For a group of 8 or more. Players sit in a circle facing inwards with one player (the fox) standing outside the circle. This player then walks around the circle several times if they wish, touching each player in turn and naming them 'duck'. If at any point they name somebody as 'goose', that player then has to catch the fox before the fox can reach the space the goose has just vacated.

Hint: As this relies on 'tag' there is nothing in to stop those who are quick enough turning round in time to tag the 'fox' without even leaving their space. However if you miss… !

Variations
Hoppity

Played as Duck, Duck, Goose described above, but players have to hop around the circle rather than run.

Elbow Tag

Sent in by Peter Provost

Children pair up with each other, link arms and scatter in their pairs around a playing field/area. One or two are picked to be 'It' and chase the pairs. The object of the game is for one of the chasers to hook onto the arm (elbow) of one of the pairs, when they do so the other one of the pair must leave and becomes the chaser (It). The game carries on until desired.

Probably worth adding the 'no get back' rule - that chasers cannot chase the pair they've just been part of.

Variation

In this version pairs who are joined are 'home' or 'safe'.

Players pair up and lock elbows. One person remains free as "It" and then choose several pairs to become unattached. "It" can only chase those who are unattached. To be safe those who are unattached must lock elbows with one side of a pair. The person on the other side of the pair must then break off and find another pair to attach to.

Fizz, Buzz 

Normal game of tag in which there are two home bases used one of which is named 'Fizz' and the other 'Buzz'. Each base holds only one player at a time and other players have to call out 'Fizz' or 'Buzz' respectively in order to take advantage of the sanctuary of that base, at least until they are buzzed off by the next player!

Flash Light Tag

Sent in by Rebecca

"Its just like tag just at night with a flash light and that is all."

Play in a darkened area, have at least 4 people and make sure each player has a flash light (torch) .
The person chosen to be 'It' closes their eyes and counts to whatever you want them to. Everybody else goes and hides. When the person who is It has finished counting they have to find those hiding, the first person they find or 'tag' then becomes 'It' and then tries to find or tag the others.

Flash Light Tag Variation

Sent in by Liamfro19

Play as Flash Light Tag, but players are tagged when the flashlight beam of the person who is 'It' touches them.

Fox and Geese

4 or 5 players are the geese. They form a line by placing their hands on the shoulders or hips of the one in front. Another 4 or 5 players form the fox in the same way. Each group facing the other. The fox has to catch the last member of the line of geese, while the geese have to dodge to stop this from happening.

Hen Pecked!

Loosely based on Coloured Eggs a game sent in by Littlebrat994

Basket or suitable container with a number of differently coloured balls or objects (some colours can be the same), one for each player. One player becomes the hen and leaves the room while all the other players remove an egg from the basket. When the hen comes back into the room they go to the players and call out a colour. All those holding eggs of that colour have to return the eggs to the basket without being 'tagged' by the hen. Players can attempt to throw the eggs into the basket, but any misses must be picked up by the player. Anybody tagged is out of the game. Last person to be caught wins.

Hug Tag

Play as normal Tag, but pairs of players hugging each other are safe.

Kick-the-Can

Sent in by Eyore87Doobers

Equipment: can (empty tin can)

This game is best played at night. It is a mixture of Hide 'n' Go Seek and Tag.

Depending on how many people you have, you choose one person who will be IT (you can have 2 or 3 if you would like.) You choose a designated "prison." By the prison you put a standing can. You have IT close their eyes while the rest go and hide somewhere. Then whenever IT chooses, they can go and look for their soon-to-be prisoners. Once a hider is captured, IT takes them back to the "prison" and that one has to stay there. The only way the prisoner may come out is if one that has not been captured kicks the can, then all those inside the prison are free. But, if the one who attempts to kick the can gets caught before kicking the can, he has to go to prison. You may decide when the game is over, by either everyone is captured or if IT gives up.
Note: It is better to have more "IT"s, so that one can go find and the other can guard the prison and the can.

Off-Ground Tag

Sent in by Ian Davidson

The game is very similar to normal tag (or tick as it is called in Liverpool). One person is "on" and as in normal tag and the object is for them to "tag" somebody else so that the other person becomes "on".  There is no base. Instead to be safe the players must have no part of their body touching the ground eg standing on a bench, raised platform, fallen tree trunk, etc.... The game is probably best played in an indoor setting where there are probably much more interesting things that can be classed as "off-ground".

On the Lines 

Equipment: Tennis court or similarly marked out area with lines on the floor

Think of trams or trains and you'll get the idea. Use a tennis court (indoor or outdoor) or any area similarly marked out with lines, both players and catchers are only allowed to run along the lines. 2 players are appointed as catchers and choose a position on the lines. All other players can take up positions anywhere else they like along the lines marking out the court or playing area. Anybody caught not running along the lines is considered a cheat and sits out.

Variations:
  • Players who are free either cannot be caught while setting somebody free or can be caught while setting somebody free.
  • If allowed to be caught either stand next to the captured player, or have to stay between their legs if caught in that position!

Rabbits - Rats

Rabbits Rats diagramDraw a line down the middle of the hall or pitch being used and divide the group into two teams, the 'Rabbits' and the 'Rats'. Players from each team partner up against a player from the other team and face them across the centre line, but standing in their respective halves. One foot of each player should be touching their opponent's at the centre line.

Explain that behind each team is a home base which if they reach they are safe from capture. If the leader calls out ‘rabbits’ this team becomes the chasing team and each rabbit has to catch their respective 'rat' partner before he/she reaches their home. If however the leader calls out ‘rats’ then the opposite happens and rats have to catch the rabbits. Each time a person is caught that team scores a point. Game ends when you like and the winning team is the team with the most points.

Variations:
Crows and Cranes

Play as in Rabbits - Rats, but in Crows and Cranes those captured change teams.

Heads or Tails?

Variation of Rabbits - Rats. Play as Rabbits - Rats, but teams are called 'Heads' or 'Tails' and the decision as to which team runs relies on the toss of a coin (useful where teams feel the person calling out is biased!)

Sharks

Two players are designated as sharks and stand in a small marked area in the center of the room. All other players are divided up into groups of different types of fish and can either all stand in the same place or in different group bases. The leader then calls outs the names of the fish and players who have that name have to run around the sharks in the middle before coming back to base. If the leader calls out ‘sharks’ the 2 sharks leave their circle and try to catch any players running around. Those caught are out.

Sprout Tag

Sent in by Estaban

The game starts with everyone being able to tag everyone. Tagging is by touching the other person with your hand but you cannot tag by touching the other person's hand. Once tagged a person becomes the toucher's captive and sits down where they are. Captives can not tag and remain out of the game until they have been freed. Captives are freed when the person who touched them is themselves tagged and made captive, or can be freed by their toucher if they choose to (see about body guarding, teaming up later).

Anybody caught cheating looses all their captives. 

It is allowed to form alliances in the game and work together and you can also have body guarding, where one or more players become body guards to another player, by defending them until the body guard is tagged. The player being guarded cannot  tag his/her body guards, but can take players made captive by body guards. The player being guarded can also stop their body guards being body guards.

You can also put a bounty on players (e.g. offering to body guard,  tag someone else etc).

Stuck-in-the-Mud

aka

Scarecrow Tig

Name sent in by Faye Caravelli

One or more players are chosen as catchers depending on numbers playing. There is no 'home' or safe base and depending on the version you are using, players when caught either stand with their legs apart (the most common form) or arms held out. Players can be set free again if another player who has not yet been caught crawls between their legs, or ducks under their arms respectively. Game stops when everybody has been stuck.

Variation

Dr Who and the Daleks

A version of Stuck-in-the-Mud. 1 or 2 players are selected as Daleks (the catchers) and 1 or 2 are Dr Who’s. As with stuck Stuck-in-the-Mud those tagged/caught by Daleks have to freeze, but players can only be released if touched by a player who is a ‘Dr Who’.

Water Tag

Sent in by DaZZliNgGeM12

Spice up the normal game of tag by using buckets of water. Person playing tag gets to throw them!

Complex Versions... 

British Bulldogs

Use a large pitch or hall for this game, to allow players plenty of room for maneuverability. Home is defined as being either end of the pitch/playing area. At the start all players stand at one end with one or two chosen as Bulldogs (the catchers) who stand in the middle. On the call "British Bulldogs 1, 2, 3" by the catchers, all players have to get the other side without being caught. This can either be by 'tagging' (simple touch) or in the more boisterous version catchers have to catch and hold onto players for the count of three in order for players to be caught. Anybody who is tagged becomes a Bulldog as well. The first two caught or last two caught in each game become the Bulldogs for the next one.

Variations
  • Play in a small area. The Bulldog/s has to touch players below the knee.
  • (Sent in by Michaela Russell)

Octopus

Variation of Bulldogs. Set up as in Bulldogs with all players stand at one end of the playing area. Depending on the size of the playing area and number playing, choose 1 - 4 players to become the 'Octopuses' (the catchers). Players if caught sit down where they are to create an obstacle to those still running, although they may not move they can 'tag' catch unwary players who get too close. This variation is also used in the Dodge ball games.

Boatman, Boatman

Variation of Bulldogs. One or two players are chosen to be the boatmen (catchers) while the rest of the players choose to stand on one side or the other of the pitch. When players are ready together they call out "Boatman, boatman may we cross the river?". The boatman/men then answers "Only if you are… " and then describes a category such "…wearing blue". The boatmans choice of category can be as general or specific as he/she wishes. All players who meet that category have to run and cross the river to the other side without being caught. Any players who are caught join the boatman in the middle and helps with the catching.

Crocodile, Crocodile

Sent in by Sophie Beresford, Huddersfield

Play as Boatman but use the rhyme "Crocodile, crocodile, may we cross your golden river". 

 Cat and Mouse

aka 

Streets & Lanes

Needs a large number of players

Ideal for school groups or similar sized parties and good for learning group co-ordination. However be aware that as only two people are running at any one time and players are often standing for long periods with their arms outstretched this can get very boring and tiring. So expect it to last a long time, at least not without complaints!

Apart from two players who are cat (catcher) and mouse, players create an evenly spaced grid of rows and columns. All need to be facing the same direction with arms out stretched so that their hands touch the players next to them creating long rows (Lanes) down which players can run.

However when the leader calls "change" or "Streets" all players standing give a ¼ (90 degree) turn so that their arms are now at 90o to what they were and but still touching those of their neighbors who were previously in front or behind them. It is worth practicing this a few time before starting the game so everybody knows what to do.

Starting at opposite ends of the grid cat chases after mouse but neither can cut through the barriers created by the arms. Leader can call "change" as many times as they wish.

Round ends when cat catches mouse or failure to do so in a given time limit.

Circle Deer Base

Sent in by Teneré Richmond

"When we were kids in California we used to play this game called 'circle deer base'. Grownups and kids played together... ...It is a wonderful game of wits and shear speed. "

Start by each person playing choosing their own individual base (a tree, a hose made into a circle, a bush etc.). Each player then starts from their base and the goal is to tag everybody else so that they join your team. A player is safe when touching their 'base', but as soon as a player leaves their base they become 'older' than any player still touching their own base who is therefore 'newer'. Newer players can tag older players and if they are successful they both can walk back freely (neither can be tagged by another player) to the newer player's base. 

The game evolves such that the player most recently on a base can tag any player who is off base and so older. All players off base fall into a hierachy of 'newest' to 'oldest', determined by who was the last to touch base, BUT the hierarchy of who can tag who is constantly and quickly changing throughout the game! If a player who is older runs back to base and touches base before being tagged , he/she can turn and tag the one who was chasing him/her just seconds before.

Once you have tagged another player and thus added them to your team you can send them out as 'bait' to lure other players away from their base, so you can tag them before they tag the one you sent as bait. 

The game requires the use of peripheral vision and awareness of who is newer than you or your teammates. Once you have been tagged, you must give up allegiance to previous teams. The teams change frequently and at the end it is everyone against the one remaining player.

"During the chase most people seem to be so focused on catching the fleeing player that they often forget to look out for being caught themselves. Their is a definite predator/prey dynamic with the twist that prey becomes predator and predator becomes prey at the pulse of a heartbeat. Personality plays an interesting part in the game as some intentionally get caught in order to join a team. Others refuse to be caught and play it safe, remaining on their base. Others still intentionally get caught in order to rejoin a team. These are all frowned upon."

[Note: It probably works best in moderately sized playing areas where players can see all the other bases. But this looks like rapidly becoming a favourite]

Dog and Bone

Suggested by Andrew Watkins

Pick an object to be the bone, something soft like a ball, balloon, coit or soft toy

Divide into two equal sized teams and get each team to secretly allocate each team member a number. It is important that members of each team do not know who has the same number as themselves on the opposite team.

Groups line up at opposite ends of the room or playing area/pitch being used. The bone is placed equidistant between the teams and the referee calls out a number.

The person with that number from each team then has to run out, grab the bone and return it to their side gaining a point. However, if you are carrying the bone the other person is then free to try and tag you. If they succeed in tagging you they get the point.

Various tactics evolve: If one person is much faster or alert than the other they might grab the bone and run back before the other can move. If both arrive together they might circle waiting for the other person to touch the bone first. Alternatively another member of the team might feint slowly forwards to trick the opposition into a run allowing their member to perform a surprise tag.

After a few goes, once the opposition numbers are known the referee might try calling 2 or more numbers together, or performing some mental arithmetic such as root 16 + 2.

Alternative :-

Play as Dog and Bone above, but players who are tagged have to drop the bone where they are. Neither player can tag each other until one has picked it up again. First player back to their team with the bone wins.

See 'Coastguards and Smugglers' for a Wide-Game (wide area) version!

Tail Tally

Equipment: Piece of rope or string for each player.
Preparation: 2 equally sized teams, define two areas as pig pens, or homes.

Each team goes to their ‘pen’ and nominates one of their team to be the catcher, all the other players have a piece of string or rope as tail which they tuck loosely into their clothing. Players are then released from their pens and catchers have to snatch as many tails as possible in a given time. Players who loose a tail have to go back to their pens from which they may be released if they are given another tail by their own team catcher.

After a time stop and count to see which team has the most tails, including those that the catcher has.

Tierce

[If anyone happens to know the origins of this game I would be very grateful.]

A game where the more the merrier, but an even number is required as players have to partner up. Partners stand in a large circle in their pairs so that everybody faces the middle with one partner of the pair standing behind the other. One pair is chosen one of whom become 'He' and stands in the centre of the circle, the other player is becomes 'Tierce' and stands outside the circle of players.

'He' has to stay on the inside of the circle and has the job of catching Tierce. Tierce can run either way round the circle on the outside and change direction as often as they like looking for the opportunity to dash into the inside of the circle and stand in front of a pair without being touched by the person who is 'He'. If Tierce succeeds and turns a group into three the player at the rear of the group then becomes `Tierce’ and tries to get to front of a pair again.

If He successfully touches Tierce, then Tierce becomes the next He and person who was He chooses any pair to stand in front of and makes the rear most player `Tierce’.

Fox & Rabbit

Sent in by Kristi-Anna and Mike moderators of the Youthworkers email list.

This looks like a variation on 'Tierce' above.

Everybody partners up and as a pair link hands to form "the hole". One of the sets of partners is chosen to become "it" one of them becoming the "fox" and the other the "rabbit". The fox has to catch the rabbit and if they do the roles reverse so that the fox now becomes the rabbit and the rabbit the fox. However the rabbit can jump into holes and be safe (pairs can either be sitting down or standing up, if the latter the rabbit will have to 'come up' between the partners linked arms as opposed to jumping in between pairs that are sitting down. Whomever the rabbit's back is to becomes the rabbit and the one who went into the hole now becomes part of the hole.

Stalking games…

These are all games that use the same theme of trying to approach a target by stealth without being caught by the guardian.

Mr Wolf

A game for younger children. One person becomes the catcher and stands on one side of the hall or if outside by a tree or other feature. The remaining players either stand at the opposite end of the hall or somewhere else that can be called home.

In Mr Wolf players as a group move towards the catcher with the objective of reaching his/her base before being caught. After a few steps so players stop and call out "What's the time Mr Wolf?". The catcher can reply either reply with any time of the day in which case the game continues as before with player advancing, but if the catcher calls out "dinner time" he/she then has to try and catch as many players as possible before they reach home.

Through the woods

Similar to Mr Wolf, but the catcher calls out a way of moving such as hopping, skipping, running, walking slowly, walking backwards, etc. Both players and catcher then must move only in this way for that round. The catcher replies with the use of the groups name appended to the sentence "<group's name> through the woods" to announce that players have to run.

Mr Fox

Sent in by Ms Lisa, teacher at Primrose Primary School

"I am a teacher at Primrose and one game the kids love to play is called Mr. Fox. This game can be played with almost any age group. I play it with the after-schoolers which are ages 4-11."

One person is Mr Fox and stands away from a safety zone where the other players wait, the other kids then ask Mr Fox, "Mr Fox, Mr Fox, What time is it?" Mr. Fox answers with something like "9 o'clock". What ever the time mentioned that is the number of steps the other have to take, in this case 9 steps. However, if the fox says midnight he/she chases the other players back to the safety zone. The first player they catch becomes the fox.

Witch in the Woods

Requires a playing area with a number of places to hide, its similar to "Mr Wolf" but likely to appeal to older players...

Establish a base, one person is chosen to be the tagger or 'Witch' who goes off and hides. After a short while the other players then disperse from base seeking out the 'witch'. Once the witch is discovered players can run back to base. The object is for the witch to surprise the other players and tag as many possible before they can get back to base.

Could be played as a wide game, but be aware of safety when playing it this way.

Variation

Starlight, Starbright

Sent in by Myriah

"This is the best game in the world to play with your friends and family on a warm summer night!"

Choose one player to be the "ghost". This player goes and hides somewhere while the remainder of the group counts to a certain number, about thirty is best. When the group have finished counting then they MUST stay together and walk around the area being played in and chant:

"Starlight, starbright, I hope I see a ghost tonight"

When the group gets near the place where the ghost is hiding, the ghost jumps out and tries to tag someone. Everyone runs back to base (the place where the group was counting earlier), before being tagged by the ghost. If a player is tagged they become the ghost for the next round. If more than one person is tagged, the first person tagged is the next ghost.