Nothing is quite like the feeling of spine-tingling terror one gets when playing a scary game. Almost everyone, from young children to adults, enjoys being a bit afraid. In this article, we share some old favorite scary games as well as some you have probably never heard of. We have not included games that may prove dangerous either physically or psychologically, as we want only those that are truly fun. On a moonless night, nothing is quite as fun as playing scary games, so we have scary games to play in the dark. However, some of the games we have listed work just as well on a sunny day. We have scary games to play with friends, and a list of scary games to play at a sleepover. Have fun!
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Scary Games to Play in the Dark
Even an ordinary game becomes scary when played in the dark. Our list of scary games to play in the dark includes some familiar favorites, often with a twist to add a fright factor, and some new games you may not have heard of before. Make sure everyone knows these are simply games, as they can cause some people to experience real fear.
Calling All Ghosts
You do not have to believe in ghosts to play this scary game. All you need is a bit of imagination and a very dark night. Although this game is best played outside, a dark house or room will work just as well. You and your friends take turns attempting to summon a ghost or spirit. Call for them softly, encourage them strongly – use whatever method you wish. You might be surprised by a visit from another realm! Even if no spirits appear, you will find everyone has fun waiting and watching for ghosts.
Monsters in the Dark
The object of this game is to scare a person left alone in the dark. One person sits on a chair in a completely dark room. Everyone else leaves the room. There are several ways to play this game:
- One person can sneak up and attempt to scare the sitting person by startling them.
- Use an object, such as a long rope (snake) or something fuzzy to touch the person’s arm or leg.
- One or more people makes scary noises.
The goal is to get the person in the chair to scream or show fright in some other way. Take turns sitting in the chair and being scared.
Seek and Kill
Seek and Kill, a variation of Hide and Seek games, adds the element of surprise and spookiness. This game can be played indoors in a totally dark house or outdoors. One player is a “killer” who seeks the other hidden players using a flashlight. If you wish, all the players may have flashlights, a good idea with younger players or if there is the potential for hazardous objects being in the way. All of the players except the killer, hide somewhere in the house or yard. The killer must find each player. Every player he finds goes to the center of a designated room in the house and lies down as if dead. The last player left, wins and becomes the next killer. The things that make this game scary are:
- Each player screams when they are discovered.
- The center of the room is called the cemetery.
- The game is played in the dark.
Add scary music or noises to make the game even spookier.
One person is a zombie and attempts to tag everyone else. When they do so, those they tag also become zombies. Continue playing until there is only one human left. The fun is walking around like an un-dead person – very scary on a moonlit night.
In this version of tag, each player is a monster and tries to catch other players. Designate a play area and when someone yells, “Go!” everyone tries to sneak up on the other players and tag them. When they do so, they yell, “Got you!” Everyone who gets tagged is out and the last player remaining wins the game.
Scary Games to Play with Friends
When you and your friends get together, add special fun playing scary games. Most of the games shared below work best in the dark, but some, such as the Sandman Game, can be played even on a sunny day.
Ghost in the Graveyard
Ghost in the Graveyard, a scary game to play with three or more friends outdoors, is a variation of Hide and Seek. One person hides while the other players stay at a rock, tree, or certain area known as the base. Players count to twenty slowly while the ghost hides. When the ghost is found, whoever finds him yells, “Ghost in the Graveyard.” All the players race back to the object or area designated as base. The ghost attempts to tag another player before they reach safety. If he manages to tag someone, that player becomes “Ghost” for the next game. If you have very young children or the area in which you are playing has obstacles such as trees, rocks, and plants that must be avoided, you can give each player a flashlight.
The Sandman Game
The Sandman Game works because of the power of suggestion. One player lies face up on the ground and the rest of the players sit around them. Choose a person as a narrator or take turns adding to a scary story. The player on the ground must remain motionless, with their eyes closed. The story must include an account of someone dying or dead, and their body being filled with sand. One of the players uses a finger to “slice” open each arm and leg, fill it with sand, and sew it up. When this process is finished, the person on the ground should feel too heavy to sit up or move. Play this game until each person has had a turn at being the sandman. Try the following story or make up your own:
You have been in a terrible accident and cannot move. You realize you are dying. Now you are dead and your body is being filled with sand. I am slicing (with a finger) your right arm open. I am filling it with sand. Now, I am packing the sand into your arm. (Pat the arm with your palm as if making the sand even.) Now I am sewing it up. (Make sewing touches with your hand.) Now I am doing your left arm. (Continue as with the right arm, then do the right leg and left leg.) Now that I am finished, your body is completely filled with sand.
You can make this game scarier if you use dim lighting and some scary music.
As Light as a Feather and as Stiff as a Board
Another game that uses the power of suggestion involves levitating a person. One person lies on the floor, faceup, with their eyes closed, and completely relaxed. Everyone else sits around the prone person and places two fingers underneath the side of their body while chanting, “Light as a feather and stiff as a board.” Some people suggest you should say it as, “Stiff as a board and light as a feather.” You may wish to try both. After saying the phrase twenty times, say, “One, two, three, lift!” The prone person should levitate off the floor. Success is dependent upon the mood created in both the prone person and those chanting, so it does not always work.
Have a person lie face-down on the carpet, eyes closed. Someone else stands in front of them and holds their hands, pulling their upper body so that it is held about a foot off the floor. After a minute passes, slowly lower their body so that it is flat on the ground. The person feels as if they are sinking into the ground – buried!
Scary Games to Play at a Sleepover
Sleepovers with your friends create special times and lasting memories. Have even more fun with scary games and stories. Play inside or outside, depending on the weather and the availability of space. Some games, such as telling scary stories, work best inside.
Telling Scary Stories
Scary stories are fun at a sleepover. You and your friends can have fun seeing who can tell the scariest story. Just make sure you have another activity before it is time for sleeping, so no one is kept awake because they are too scared to sleep. Sit around in a circle with a flashlight. Pass the flashlight around so each person can shine the light in their face while telling a story. Try one of the following scary story ideas:
- Challenge your friends to tell the scariest story they know.
- Get a book from the library with scary stories or look on the internet for scary stories.
- Make up your own scary story by thinking of the what scares you the most and tell a story with the scary object as the main character. For example, what about a scary story featuring a large talking snake that threatens to kill people?
- Take turns adding to a story that one person begins. For example, “Once there was a young girl walking through a graveyard.” Each person makes the story as gross or scary as possible.
The Dead Man Game
This game takes some advance preparation, but the time is well worth it. Prepare some cups or bowls with items that feel creepy or gross. Use the following or choose your own:
- Peeled grapes for eyes
- A small peeled cantaloupe or large peeled tomato for a brain
- Cooked cold pasta for the intestines
- Peeled and sliced watermelon for muscles
- Little smoked sausages for fingers and toes
Make sure the room is dark and then pass around each item while telling a story or describing a corpse in a scary voice. For example, “Here are his eyes,” as you pass around the peeled grapes.
Murder in the Dark
You must have at least five people to play this game. Prepare a large room by removing anything someone might trip over in the dark. Make sure the room can be completely dark. Prepare enough slips of paper for everyone playing the game. On one write “Murderer” and on one write “Detective.” The rest of the slips of paper have “Victim” written on them. Put all of the slips of paper into a box or basket and let each player draw one. The Detective turns off the light, leaves the room, and remains outside until he hears a scream. While the detective is out of the room, the Murderer, who remains anonymous, roams the room touching one or more Victims. When he touches someone, that person screams and is “dead.” When the Detective returns, he turns on the lights. Everyone must freeze where they are. The Detective attempts to discover who the Murderer is by asking questions such as, “Where were you when you heard the scream?” The Detective guesses who the Murderer was. If he is correct, he wins. If he is wrong, he loses and play resumes with everyone redrawing slips of paper and having a new Murderer and Detective. If you have a large group, the Murderer may “kill” more than one player each round. Also, you can set the number of questions the Detective is allowed to ask, if you wish.
Whichever game you choose to play, make sure all of the players are ready to participate and have fun. Be careful playing scary games with very young children, as you do not want your scary game to be so intense that real fear develops. Also, think about safety before playing scary games. Remove obstacles, avoid using candles or any type of fire, and set boundaries for playing.
Note: Although we have not intentionally shared any games that may be dangerous, you should still use caution when playing any of the scary games on our lists. Some people get scared very easily, so make sure everyone understands you are simply playing a game. If someone is uncomfortable or expresses hesitation, let them stay out of the game or choose a different activity.
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.