In my interview with games designer Jane McGonigal for the June issue of Psychology Today, I asked her if she and her twin sister made up a lot of games together as kids. She said, in part, "We went through a phase of making up playground games, versions of hide and seek but incredibly convoluted versions that you would have to explain like a hundred times to people." That reminded me of piece of hypertext fiction I wrote in college that was set in a particle accelerator/psychiatric hospital. Inmates played a game called Mentalball. I remember my teacher Robert Coover really liking the passage:
The rules are as follows. If anyone catches the mentalball, he or she must immediately count to ten and then throw the ball. If he/she throws the ball before completing the count to ten, then he/she is out. If the ball collides with another person, then that person must tag the thrower before the thrower completes a count to ten that was begun immediately after throwing the ball. If the target tags the thrower in time, then anyone can gain a point by hitting the target again with the ball, that is if the new thrower has completed a count to ten after obtaining the ball. If a thrower hits two people with one throw, and neither target catches the ball, then they must race to tag the thrower, and the winning tagger can gain a point by avoiding the ball for the duration of a count to twenty, one for each of the two targets. If the target is not hit with the ball during this period of time, then the thrower must be hit before tagging the original target, or else the target earns a point. Now if a target catches the thrown ball, he/she has twenty seconds to hit the thrower with the ball, which would earn him/her a point, and another ten seconds to hit anyone else with the ball, which would prevent the loss of a point. After both of these counts, if the possessor still possesses the ball, he/she must drop the ball in place and avoid being hit with the ball just long enough to tag another player (other than the player who picks up the ball.) Otherwise he/she is out. Now any two players can form a team, and then they are called "spotters." If one spotter is hit with a ball, the other has ten seconds to tag his/her teammate and then another ten seconds to tag the person holding the ball. This person may not pass the ball to any other player during this time, and if no one possesses the ball, the teammate may tag anyone. This will earn the spotter who was hit one point. If a spotter catches a ball, he/she must pass the ball to his/her teammate within ten seconds. Otherwise the person who threw the ball that the spotter caught will earn one point...
I totally should have submitted it to the Come Out & Play Festival, but in reality, it's even harder to play than Mayonnaise in Your Mouth. (That's the old board game where you move your piece around and draw cards and you have to read words with as many syllables as you can with as many spoonfuls of mayonnaise in your mouth as possible so that your teammate can understand you. I think it was sponsored by Hellmann's in the 1950's.)
If you're into the standard Tag and Hide & Seek, I believe those are still available:
(That's me with my best friends Ken and Glen when we were 16.)