Top 10 Scary Halloween Games & Rituals You'd Have to Be Crazy to Try
There are a lot of so-called "games" that people have played in order to experience a ghost, spirit, or even the devil himself. Halloween is probably the best time (or the worst, depending on how you look at it) for any of these games.
Some say these games do nothing more than work up an active imagination; others say they’ve had devastating effects. Some people claim to have been scared so badly that they were never the same again. Others claim they’re haunted horribly for years after trying one of these games, or that they’ve been possessed. Rare stories say people who have played these games have disappeared, died, or committed suicide.
I’m going to tell you about them because they can make for fun Halloween reading and discussions—but, I warn you, don't play them! And if against all common sense you do, please do your research for proper precautions—this is not to be considered an instructional guide here, and I deliberately leave out steps because I don’t want you to know how to actually play.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 scariest Halloween games anyone could ever play.
10. The Ouija Board or Spirit Board
The Ouija or spirit board is basically a tool for spirit communications. The spirit uses you—your eyes and your body—as a vessel to move the planchette around on top of a board during a séance to spell out words and answer questions. Think of it as old-fashioned, cross-dimensional text messaging. Only instead of with your friend, you’re exchanging messages from beyond (cue sudden lightning bolt and ominous orchestra flourish).
Some people will tell you that the board is just a toy. Well, Parker Brothers did make it into a game, but they didn’t invent the concept. Techniques similar to this board have been used for ages to communicate with spirits.
It seems everybody and his mother has a Ouija board story to tell. Some people experience nothing at all. Many people will attest to odd happenings, such as knocks, scratches, falling or flying objects, or odd messages. Some people have complained of spirits following them or haunting them after using the Ouija board—a danger mostly faced by those using it improperly. Mocking spirits, asking when you or someone else will die, or inviting spirits to show or "prove" themselves are said to be the worst mistakes a person can make.
If you’re familiar with the movie The Exorcist, you may or may not know it was based on an actual possession case of a little boy who "played" with the Ouija board. I don’t know about that, but I can attest to one thing from personal experience: pissed-off spirits are not above chucking both the board and planchette at your head.
9. The Triple Mirror Game
A psychic friend of mine first showed me this game long ago. In folklore through the ages, thresholds and mirrors were believed to form windows into the spirit world when they’re used together.
To play this game, a person first needs to protect themselves by spiritually cleansing the room and putting a line of salt across all thresholds and windowsills. The person then lights a white candle in the room and sets it on the threshold to attract the spirits in the building. Spirits are apparently mega-curious about white candles for some reason, kind of like the way a laser pen used on the wall attracts cats.
You’re supposed to arrange 3 mirrors in the room so that you bounce the reflection of the door from one to the other. It is said that if you gaze into the third mirror, you can see the spirits that might be hanging around the home.
Not sure why someone would want to know that. For me, there are 3 things I don’t want to know: how many bugs are in the walls, how many germs are on my body, and how many ghosts are hanging around my house.
8. Charlotte’s Mirror
Also called "Charlotte's Web" after the popular children's book, this game is supposed to be about conjuring a little girl spirit named Charlotte. According to those who’ve played it, when Charlotte is good, she’s very good; but when she’s bad, she’s freaking terrifying.
Two players are supposed to summon Charlotte in a dark room with a large mirror. They’re supposed to present an offering to Charlotte, such as a girl’s toy. If Charlotte deems you offering worthy, she’ll answer questions for you until you want to wrap things up. At that point, the two players must dismiss Charlotte in unison.
There are a few catches to this game. The first is that if Charlotte doesn’t like your offering, she’ll be pretty pissed at you; she’ll screw with your head and scare the bejeezus out of you. Another thing is that Charlotte really hates fires—so don’t dare light a candle or have an open flame, or she’ll come at you and make you sorry you did. Charlotte also hates pedophiles, so if you have any dirty little skeletons in your closet—well, better safe than sorry. Stay away from this little ghostly girl.
7. The Midnight Game
Promptly at midnight, players follow instructions to summon the Midnight Man. It’s not a very complicated ritual, nor does it require any elaborate stuff, but it involves knocking that must occur on the stroke of midnight or it won’t work.
Once the Midnight Man is summoned, game on. There’s nothing else you can do but ride it out until 3:33 AM when the Midnight Man will leave. Lore says that ancient Pagans used this ritual to punish criminals or test bravery.
Players will each have a candle, lighter and canister of salt. You’re supposed to keep walking and moving around throughout the house in the dark—no other lights or it won’t work. If you feel a cold spot or if your candle flickers, the Midnight Man is said to be near you. If your candle goes out, you have 10 seconds to re-light it or secure yourself in a circle of salt to protect yourself. If you didn’t get your candle going, you must sit in the salt-circle until he leaves.
If you fail at the candle and salt circle, the Midnight Man "wins" the game; he will haunt you with hallucinations of your worst fears.
Chills and cold spots are quite common during this "game." Some people hear banging, scratches, and whispers, or report things falling (like pictures falling off the wall or things getting knocked off tables). Some have seen full-blown apparitions of the Midnight Man, who is a shadowy figure.
If you taunt the Midnight Man during the game, you will suffer from nightmares about your worst fears for a while. He doesn't like being provoked.
6. The Thumb Game
This is a game that comes from Japan for a group of three or more players. Apparently, if you "win" this game, you get a wish granted. On the flip side, if you lose, you could become a homicidal ghost trapped on another plane. Damn, there's always a catch, isn't there?
There's a story behind this game. A 20-year-old woman was murdered and dismembered in a villa. Police rounded up all of her body parts, except for one: they could not find her left thumb... charming.
To play the game, the players sit in a circle. Each player grabs the thumb of the person to their right (so you are holding their left thumb). Everyone closes their eyes—and must keep them closed for the whole game. Seriously, no peeking.
Players imagine the villa very vividly. There is a Japanese chant that transports the group to the villa where they much search for the thumb. If you feel any taps on your shoulder at any time, ignore it—whatever you do, don't turn around! There is a single candle in the room. If you blow it out, it will transport you back to your own dimension.
Now, if you find the thumb, blow out the candle and you win—your wish is granted. Shiny! If you don't find the thumb, you can simply go back, and you're no worse for wear.
However, many dangers abound. If someone lets go of your thumb, you lose your digit. If you open your eyes, if you turn around when you feel a tap, or if you let the candle go out on its own, you will be killed and your spirit will be bound to the villa where you will tap and kill other players for eternity.
5. The Bathtub Game
This one also comes from Japan, and apparently the Japanese really love gruesome background stories. The Bathtub Game is about conjuring the spirit of a young woman who died from falling in the bathtub. Her face hit the rusty old faucet and it took an eye out. So naturally, Japanese teeny-boppers thought, “Hey, let’s invent a ritual to summon her!”
You play by stripping naked one night and hopping into a tub full of water with the lights off. You close your eyes and wash your hair, repeating a little chant while you visualize the woman in the bathtub slipping and falling to her death. Yuck.
If you do it right, you're supposed to feel movement in the water behind you. Supposedly she's there with her rotting, tattered clothes (why does she wear clothes in the bath? I don't know. Who am I to question a ghost?), her stringy hair and a gaping, oozing hole where her right eye once was. You will sense her and feel her. Don't open your eyes or she'll kill you right there.
Keeping your eyes firmly shut and try to climb out of the tub (don't let her trip you or you're screwed) and make your way out of the bathroom. Don't worry about the water—you are supposed to leave it overnight. Shut the door behind you, go to your room, and go to sleep. (Yeah, right.)
The next day, the one-eyed ghost woman will follow you wherever you go. You will feel her presence and catch glimpses of her if you look over your right shoulder. She will keep getting closer... and closer... and closer... BOO! (Just kidding… I added that part, but you can do that too when you tell your friends.)
Where was I? Oh yeah… so she will keep getting closer and you should not let her catch you. You must end the game before midnight by yelling "I cut you loose!" in Japanese while doing a karate-chop motion in front of her. If you don't cut her loose, she'll haunt your dreams and follow you for life—eventually catching you.
I think the biggest danger here is trying to move around in a slippery tub while scared crapless in a pitch-black bathroom with your eyes closed. So this might be a bad idea all around.
4. Hide and Seek Alone
Hide and Seek Alone has gotten some pretty dramatic results from people who try it, though it’s a bit of an elaborate ritual. Here’s a friendly little safety tip to avert disaster: don’t do this when some unsuspecting non-player is in the house, or they could end up dead.
In this game, you summon a ghost into a doll at 3 AM, and then invite the possessed doll for a friendly little game of hide and seek. Only when the doll is "it," it doesn’t just tag you—it stabs you. So this is a game you’d better hope you don’t lose.
The player replaces the stuffing in a stuffed doll with rice and nail clippings, sews it back up and tosses it in a tub of water. He tells the doll that he (the player) is "it" first, then runs off to turn off all the lights in the house (leaving at least one TV on a white noise channel). The player counts to 10, then goes back to the doll and says "found you!" three times, and stabs the doll with something sharp.
The player then tells the doll that it’s the doll’s turn to be "it," leaving the sharp implement in the bathroom. Now the player must run and hide—supposedly a closet with a door that can lock is ideal. The player is also supposed to prepare a cup of salt water, which he takes a big sip of and holds it in his mouth.
That’s when the freaky stuff begins to happen. Many people report hearing knocks, scratches, footsteps, giggles, and even voices saying, “Where are you?” Some people claim the doll was not in the tub where they left it. A lot of people have caught such things on video as well.
Ending the game is a bit elaborate as well. The player sneaks back to the doll (or the murderous doll catches the player—whichever comes first), and spits the salt water on the doll. Yelling “I win!” three times ends it, and only burning the doll will get rid of the spirit.
They say not to let the game go on for more than 2 hours, because it makes the spirit too strong. Umm—I don’t know about you, but if I’m sitting in a closet with a mouth full of salt water, and a knife-wielding doll is wandering the house hunting me, I’m probably not going to last two hours.
A YouTuber Puts Hide & Seek Alone to the Test
3. Closet Game
If plain old ghosts aren’t enough for you on Halloween night, why not upgrade to demons? Then you can really put your immortal soul in danger.
The closet game is pretty simple. In a pitch-black closet inside a pitch-black room, a single player stands for a little while. Knowing they're about to summon a demon, it seems the main purpose for standing there in the dark is to ensure they're good and scared.
The person then starts holding up matches, one at a time, saying, "Show me the light or leave me in darkness." If there's any whispering, the player lights the match immediately and is just supposed to stand there holding burning matches. The big no-no rule is that he must not turn around—if the player looks behind him at any time, he will be dragged into eternal darkness.
One little warning is that the match might light on its own—if that don't leave a brick in your pants, I don't know what will. When he's had enough, the player can exit the closet.
As a lovely parting gift, your closet is now permanently haunted by a demon. Congrats!
2. Dry Bones
Dry Bones is a demon—he likes to play hide and seek with you, and if you win he can be generous. This game is so dangerous that just thinking about it can summon Dry Bones to you before you’re even ready to start the game (and if you think that’s happened, get the hell out of the house until morning). But to properly begin a game, you’re supposed to summon Dry Bones with a match in the bathroom and invite him in to play at precisely 12:01 AM while you think of a prize you want (and it must be something realistic).
Dry Bones will make his presence known by moaning—and at that point, try not to make any sudden movements. Get to your hiding place and wait it out. If he doesn’t find you by 3 AM, you can come out and tell him to leave. That’s how you win. Your wish will be sitting outside your front door in the morning.
If he finds you, however, you lose… and you lose big. And, sadly, no one actually knows what happens if he finds you because no one’s apparently admitted to this happening. Maybe they’re scared silent… or maybe they didn’t live to tell about it. Who knows?
The big warning with this game is not to wish for someone to be hurt or killed—apparently, Dry Bones thinks this should require more than a measly game of hide-and-seek, and you will not like the price for such a wish.
Oh, and one more warning—never play more than once. Although some might say once is too much.
1. Devil’s Mirror
Some scare-seekers decided to forget the ghosties and demons and just cut to the chase—summoning the devil himself.
In this game, one single player lights 12 black candles in a dark bathroom and closes her eyes until the stroke of midnight. When she opens her eyes and looks at the mirror, she'll be face-to-face with the Prince of Darkness himself. At least with this game, the toilet is conveniently in reach in case the bricks start coming.
Play at Your Own Peril
I have played some of these myself, and I will tell you one thing: I do not believe they are games. I certainly believe many people can play and survive these games, but I think it’s more than just the imagination getting worked up. Stuff can happen. Freaky stuff sometimes. Playing these games has converted a lot of skeptics into believers. I caution you to take this article as a warning rather than encouragement.