Source: Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash

One of the earliest memories of childhood games is of one kid counting to a hundred with their eyes closed and the others scurrying away in search of the perfect hiding spot. As I believe you would have recognized, the game being played was Hide-and-seek.

In the of chance that you don’t know how to play this game, here is a brief description. One person is the ‘It’ and they have to close their eyes and count to a predetermined number. All the other players have to hide while the ‘It’ seeks them out. There are different variations of this, with some games involving tagging the players that are hiding, or having the players reach to touch a ‘base’ in order to win, or even having the players help the seeker to find other players when they are found. This game has been around for centuries, being passed down from generation to generation. But where did it originate?

It is said that the origin of Hide-and-seek was a game called “apodidraskinda”, a game played in ancient Greece. Julius Pollux, a second-century Greek writer, was the first to mention this game. It involved similar rules to the game played today; there would be a seeker and the other players would hide. An early painting in Herculaneum also showed the game, giving further evidence to its origin in ancient Greece. Apart from this, this game was mentioned in texts in Elizabethan England. Shakespeare also mentions it in his ‘Love’s Labors Lost’.

Today the game has many different variations. In Greece, this game is called ‘Kryfto’, in Israel, it is called ‘Machboim’, in Bolivia, it is ‘Tuja’, in Ecuador people know it as ‘Escondidas’, România knows it as ‘De-av-ati ascunselea’ and in South Korea, it is popular as ‘Sumbaggoggil’. It is widely known in India as well, with many kids playing it in school during breaks and with their neighbourhood friends. In my state of Goa, we call this game ‘Lipchani’. The seeker would be called the ‘Dener’ and they need to count the numbers facing a wall or column. That column will become the safe spot for the other players. Once the seeker moves away from the column to find the others, they can run towards the column and touch it, yelling ‘Teepo’. This will keep them safe from being the seeker in the next round. The first person to be caught would be the seeker.

Hide-and-seek is not just a game popular among children though; it has been used in different forms and enjoyed by different people. One of the prime examples is the use of Hide-and-seek in YouTube videos. The most popular YouTuber to host such challenges is MrBeast. He rents out large spaces such as a stadium, an abandoned city, or a run-down amusement park, and invites a group of people who have to hide. He plays the role of the seeker, along with his friends, if required. The people who get spotted are taken away to the ‘prison’ where they have to stay till all people are found. The last player standing is the winner and they win a huge cash prize.

This game is also used in a variety of movies, especially in the horror and thriller genre, where usually the killer is the seeker and the players lose their life if they are found. There are several movies titled ‘Hide and seek’ and their plots involve imaginary friends, curious symbols, the disappearance of siblings, strange apparitions, and even a killer Santa Claus. The movie Ready or Not was also based on hide-and-seek, where the twisted family was all seekers while the bride had to hide to save her life. There are of course movies and series in the romance genre as well; a prime example is the Hide and Seek Korean drama series, though these may or may not directly feature the game itself.

Another significant aspect about hide-and-seek is that it has its own World Championship! The Nascondino World Championship is a competition where players from all over the world participate to be crowned the champion. Its first edition took place in the Italian city of Bergamo in 2010, and it is now conducted annually in the summertime in Italy. Jeffrey Wayne Gauvin of the United States of America is the inaugural and reigning champion. In the Championship, the players have to hide behind the different barriers constructed in the playing area and they have to run towards a pre-decided spot without the seeker spotting them. It is fun to watch and it definitely must be extremely fun to play!

We see that hide-and-seek is a very popular and exciting game. Though it’s origins may not be fully known, at present, it is being played across the world. Both children and adults alike enjoy it in one form or another and will continue to do so for years to come.

.    .    .