30 Scary Games So Spine-Tingling They’re Addictive

'Tis the season to scare your socks off!

30 Scary Games So Spine-Tingling They’re Addictive

'Tis the season to scare your socks off!

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With Halloween just around the corner, the time has never been better for some goose-bump-inducing chills. You could turn on a scary movie and see if that delivers enough nail-biting tension, but even the best horror flicks lack the endorphin rush that most fear junkies crave. They want a terrifying fantasy that seems, at least for a minute, like it could be real. We’re talking about the kinds of scary games you may have played at sleepovers as a kid, where it was easy to convince yourself that you conjured up some real ghosts or tapped into the supernatural. You can turn off a horror movie, but if you think you’ve accidentally unlocked a portal and unleashed some seriously angry spirits, there’s really nothing to do but close your eyes and hope it’s all in your head.

Here are 30 such scary games you can play with your friends, whatever your age—because, truly, you’re never too old or too young to get scared silly. Turn off the lights, pull down the shades, and get ready to remember why freaking yourself out can be so much fun.

1. Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board

Levitation is one of the oldest tricks in a magician’s playbook, and everybody knows that it’s just an optical illusion. There’s no way to actually levitate something. Or is there? Give this group activity a try and see if it doesn’t change your mind.

Have one of your friends lie on the floor while four or five people kneel around him or her. With each of you placing just two fingers from each hand under their body, the group chants “Light as a feather, stiff as a board” and then attempts to lift that person into the air. It won’t work the first time, but by your second attempt you’ll discover, much to everyone’s shock and awe, that they easily drift upwards, almost like you’re nudging up a balloon.

Why does it work? Some explain it with physics—an average person’s body mass, spread out over five people, is actually no heavier to lift per person than a bag of groceries—and some claim it’s just a self-fulfilling prophecy. We have no idea what’s going on, but it gives us a shiver every time.

2. The Picture Game

If you’ve got some rope, a pair of scissors, a bunch of small mirrors, an empty glass (and something boozy to fill it), and an old-school flash camera (camera phones won’t do the job), you’ve got all the supplies to capture a real ghost on film and partake in one of the best scary games. Well, maybe. It depends on how much you’re willing to suspend your disbelief.

Here’s how it works: Make a circle on the floor with the rope and put the glass in the middle, filling it with a little bit of alcohol. Everybody sits around the circle, holding one of the tiny mirrors with the reflective part pointing towards the ceiling. With the lights out, everybody closes their eyes and says “I trust you,” and then chants in unison, “The door is open, please come in.” Pass around the camera and everyone has three turns taking a picture in the dark while saying “I caught you” out loud. At no point should anyone enter the circle made by the rope. And… that’s it. Will you catch a glimpse of a ghost in one of those pictures? We’re not telling. You’ll just have to try it and find out.

3. Bloody Mary

A popular “dare you to do it” game at sleepovers, this is another one that involves conjuring spirits. But this time, you’re doing it alone. You lock yourself inside a bathroom, with all the lights out except for a single candle. Then you stare into the mirror and chant “Bloody Mary” thirteen times. Or maybe it’s just three times. Or possibly a hundred times. There are numerous different variations, and nobody seems to agree on the exact number. So just start saying Bloody Mary and wait for a ghost to appear in the mirror.

Whose ghost? None other than Queen Mary I, the only child of King Henry VIII. Um… so, why her, exactly? As the story goes, the famously melancholy queen suffered from pseudocyesis, or “phantom pregnancy,” and was never able to produce an heir for the crown, so she haunts bathrooms for eternity and waits for people to say her name in the dark.

4. The Midnight Game

Okay, we’ll be honest, everything about this game is downright freaky. It’s apparently based on an old Pagan ritual that was used to punish lawbreakers. Now, the truthfulness of that tale is wishy-washy, but, no matter what, it definitely sounds like a more terrifying punishment than being sent to prison.

So here’s what’s involved: You write your full name—yes, including your middle name—on a piece of paper and place it in front of a wooden door. Then, light a candle and place it on top of the paper. Wait until just before midnight and then knock on the door 22 times, timing it so your final knock happens exactly at the stroke of midnight. Then blow out the candle and open the door.

What happens next in this scariest of scary games? You’ve just unleashed the Midnight Man into the world, some sort of supernatural creature that’s going to be hunting you for the next three and a half hours. Yeah that’s right, hunting. You have to walk around your dark house with a candle until 3:33 a.m. (that’s when the Midnight Man disappears) and try not to be caught. If your candle blows out, that means it’s close. If you can’t get it relit, you have to surround yourself with salt. If you don’t get the salt shaker in time, the Midnight Man finds you and… well, it’s unclear what happens then (we’ve never met someone who’s let that happen), but we sure don’t want to find out.

5. Ouija Board

Yes, one of the oldest scary games out there. A perfect spooky evening for anyone who doesn’t just want to talk to ghosts but also get some advice. It’s kind of like “Dear Abby” but with dead people. The Ouija is a board covered in letters and numbers, and a clear planchette or “pointer”—a small piece of wood or metal—that’s used to spell out messages. But the trick is this: it’s not you doing the spelling.

Two players put their fingers on the planchette and then start asking questions to no one in particular. If a nearby spirit hears you and feels like responding, your hands will mysteriously gravitate across the board until an answer appears. It sounds innocuous enough—the game can’t be that bad if you can buy it at a toy store—but there are some crazy stories out there, and they’re not from giggly teenagers trying to freak each other out on a weekend sleepover. They’re from sane, entirely believable adults who used a Ouija board and ended up with way more than they bargained for.

6. The Fortune Game

This Japanese fortune-telling game (original name: Tsuji-Ura) is ancient folklore that’s been practiced for centuries. All that’s needed is an ordinary comb, something to conceal your face, and a crossroads (an intersection of two or more roads). There’s just something creepy and mystical about an intersection of two or more roads, and it’s not just the fact that it’s included in practically every legend wherein a person makes a deal with the devil. Don’t worry, you’re not meeting any demons in this game—we think.

You start by walking out to the crossroads just after dark, either alone or with a friend. Stand near the center and make the comb “speak” by running your fingers across the teeth. Then repeat these three lines: “Tsuji-ura, tsuji-ura, grant me a true response.” Conceal your face and then wait. And wait. And wait until someone approaches.

If nobody comes or you’re approached by a friend or someone you know, your request has been denied by the spirit realm. But if a stranger walks over, without revealing your identity, politely ask them to tell you your fortune. Listen quietly, and when they’ve finished and have disappeared back into the night, walk home with your newfound knowledge. Did you get good news, or horrifying news? Who exactly was this stranger? A dead relative, or some messenger from the beyond? The mysteries are exactly what makes this game so enthralling.

7. Hide-and-Seek Alone

How in the world can you play hide and seek without anybody else? Simple! Just find yourself a creepy doll and summon a ghost to inhabit it so it chases after you. Fun, right? Oh, and there’s a catch. When the possessed doll is “it,” they’re not just trying to tag you. The doll will actually be intent on stabbing you instead.

Yep, that’s the story. Maybe it’s all in your imagination and there’s not really a doll with demon eyes wandering through your house with a kitchen knife, looking to slice into you when you least expect it. But you better stay in that closet for a few more hours just to be safe!

8. Cat Scratch

If it works—and many people swear that it does—this is one of the scary games that will leave you confused and petrified for weeks. There’s not much to it: You lie on your back on the floor, with your head resting on a friend’s lap. Then your friend recites one of two stories involving a cat, all while gently rubbing your temples. They’re long stories, and include creepy lines like, “There once was an old lady who owned a cat/The cat was very nice/It meowed and purred/One day, the cat got hit by a car and died.”

When your friend is finished, stand up and pull up your shirt. If this ghoulish ritual worked correctly, your back should be covered in red claw marks. How this happens is anybody’s guess. Did the stories awaken some cat ghost, who managed to slip under you and scratch your back without you feeling a thing? What exactly do dead cats have against stories about cats? And why did it scratch you and not the jerk telling the story?! It’s a lot to ponder and will definitely keep you up at night.

9. The Triple Mirror Game 

One thing’s for sure, if you want to make contact with ghosts, you’re gonna need to invest in some mirrors. For this game, you need no less than three, as well as a big white candle. (Nothing scented; ghosts are repulsed by eucalyptus and spearmint odors.) Light the candle and put it on the floor, then arrange the mirrors around the room so that they reflect the image of the door from one mirror to the other. This takes a lot of meticulous tilting and adjusting until you finally get it right, but it’s supposedly worth the effort for when you get a glimpse of some bona fide ghosts and spirits that have been inhabiting your room. You’ll only see them in the third mirror, for some reason, and sometimes only in flashes. Don’t know about you, but that’s enough for us to pack bags and book it to the nearest Garden Inn.

10. The Shoebox Telephone

It’s like getting a phone call from dead people, but without any of the long-distance charges. Here’s what you do: Write a letter to somebody who’s passed away, with a very specific question for them. (Don’t be vague. A question like “How ya doing?” isn’t going to impress any ghosts.) Next, run a string between two cups, and put one of the cups inside a shoebox. Then place that shoebox—the “phone” for whatever ghost you’re trying to contact—in a dark closet. That’s it. It’s time to go to bed, and wait for the call.

You won’t actually hear the phone ringing. According to legend, you’ll have a dream in which a phone is ringing, which, frankly, should be enough to wake you up. When that happens, get out of bed and, without turning on any lights, go find the closet. Sit down next to the cup, whose string should be leading into the (closed) closet door and pick it up. Put the cup to your ear and listen.

At this point, you’ll either hear nothing—in which case, your experiment failed, and it’s time to go back to bed. Or, you’ll hear the voice of somebody who has left this mortal coil—in which case you can either sit and listen to what they have to say, or drop the cup and just start running, screaming, “WHY DID I DO THAT? WHY DID I DO THAT? AAAIIIIEEEEEEE!!”

11. Elevator to Another Dimension

Can an elevator take you directly to the afterlife? Maybe so, and it’d certainly be easier on the calves than the “Stairway to Heaven” that Led Zeppelin sang about. But to get there, you have to be very specific with which floors you travel to first. Begin by finding a building with at least ten floors and an elevator. That’s the easy part (for urban dwellers, at least). Get in the elevator, make sure you’re alone, and press the button for the fourth floor.

When you get there, don’t get out. Instead, press the button for the second floor. From there, take the elevator to the sixth floor, and then back to the second floor, and then to the tenth floor, and finally to the fifth floor. Allegedly, once you get to the fifth floor, a mysterious young woman will step inside. Don’t look at her—and for the love of al that is good, do not say anything at all to her. As some fans of this mystical game have warned, “She is not what she seems.” Instead, just stare straight ahead and wait to see what happens next.

If she takes you to the tenth floor, don’t get out. You’ll be stuck in the Otherworld forever. Just wait until the elevator eventually makes its way back to the first floor. Then get out and run the heck out of the building. How do you know you actually rode an elevator with a ghost? You may never know, other than the chill that ran down your spine when a person—a possibly dead person—stood next to you in an elevator and you waited, your lips trembling, to see what might happen next. Yes, this is one of the freakiest scary games. 

12. The Bath Game

Also known as Daruma-san, it’s a great activity for anyone who’s ever thought, “I’d love to take a long, relaxing bath that actually turns into the most horrifying night of my life!” Sound like you? Okay then, here’s what’s involved: Pour yourself a nice, warm bath and turn out the lights. Climb in and sit facing the faucet. Close your eyes tight and begin repeating these words out loud: “Daruma-san fell down, Daruma-san fell down.” Eventually, they say, a mental image will pop into your head of a Japanese woman standing in the bathtub, who quickly falls down and hits the faucet with her face, causing her to lose her right eye. Without opening your eyes or turning on the lights, get out and walk straight to bed.

The next day, the ghost of that woman who died in a bathtub will be haunting you. Everywhere you go, she’ll be there, and though you might never see her, you’ll always have the weird sense that somebody is standing right behind you. Your best bet at seeing her is to look over your right shoulder—for some reason, that’s where most people have caught a glimpse of her—and when you do, shout at her, “Kitta!” This is Japanese for “I cut you loose!” It helps if you swing your arm down in a chopping motion, just to make sure she understands. If you catch her in the exact right moment, it’ll be enough to scare her away. If not, well, you may have a ghost stalker for the foreseeable future. Good luck with that!

13. Ghost

If you have questions for the afterlife but you’re not feeling brave enough to use a Ouija board, this game could be the perfect compromise. All you need is a deck of cards, some candles, and a bunch of friends with questions for the Other Side.

Find a dark location to play, and make sure all the windows are covered. Sit in a circle with five of your friends—five is the magic number, for some reason—and give everybody candles. Light the candles, and then shuffle the deck of cards nine times. Then deal yourself 11 cards, faced down, and place the extra cards in a single deck in front of the other people. Now it’s time to start asking questions, and the ghosts will answer based on the cards you pull up: the dealer’s stack includes answers, and the other cards are for the other participants. Every heart that’s revealed means yes, every spade is no. A diamond is maybe, and a clubs is I don’t know. Are ghosts really using card tricks to answer all of your burning questions? We don’t know, you play the game and ask them. (If you pull up a heart, that probably means they are.)

14. The Thumb Game

It’s based on an old Japanese legend about a woman who was murdered and dismembered by some maniacal serial killer, and the police were able to locate all of her body parts except for one: her left thumb. Charming story, right?

Well, with that in mind, here’s how you play the Thumb Game. You and three or more friends sit in a circle, with a lit candle in the middle, and each person holds onto the thumb of the person sitting to his or her right (so you’re grasping them by the left thumb.) Close your eyes and repeat this chant: “Oyayubi, Oyayubi, hear our voices. Oyayubi, Oyayubi, grant our wish.” Within moments, you’ll be transported back to the mura where the murder took place.

Look around the room and see if you can find the Japanese girl’s missing thumb. Don’t let go of anybody’s thumb or it will immediately be taken away to the spirit realm. And if you feel a bony finger tapping you on your shoulder, whatever you do, don’t turn around. (Doing so, we’ve been told, could have disastrous consequences.) You have until the candle burns out to find the missing thumb, and then you’ll return to the home where you left, and the danger will have passed. Hopefully everybody makes it back with all of their digits still attached.

15. Charlotte’s Mirror

If you hoped this one had anything to do with the beloved children’s book Charlotte’s Web, you’re about to be sorely disappointed. It’s actually about conjuring the ghost of a dead 7-year-old girl named Charlotte, who died during the 15th century when her mother was burned at the stake for being a witch. All you need is a dark room, a large mirror, and a gift—something that a girl ghost who lived before electricity and modern plumbing might enjoy—for Charlotte. A toy might do the trick.

Put it on the floor and, while only watching the gift’s reflection in the mirror, wait to see if Charlotte approves. If she likes what you’ve brought, she’ll reward you by answering any questions you might have about the afterlife. But if she’s displeased by your offering, you better start running. Oh, and don’t bring a candle to this seance. Charlotte hates candles, and trust us on this, she is one centuries-old dead girl whose buttons you do not want to push.

16. The Closet Game

If you’re going to have a terrifying encounter with a demon, it might as well be in a dark closet, right? If that’s not your idea of a good time, this might not be the evening activity for you. But if you’re up for a risk—and summoning a demon for a closet chat is nothing if not a risk—here’s what you need to know: At or around midnight, step into a dark closet and close the door. Wait for two minutes and then hold out an (unlit) match while chanting, “Show me the light or leave me in darkness.” If you hear faint whispering behind you, light the match right away.

Don’t let it go out. If you do, that demon will likely grab you and take you with him to whatever dark and gloomy underworld it calls home. As long as the match is lit, you’re protected. Listen as long as you like to its whispered, menacing groans, and when you’re ready, slowly reach for the door and, without letting the match go out, leave the closet.

17. Concentrate

This was a popular schoolyard game for many of us growing up, which is crazy when you consider it in hindsight, given that it involved some really creepy poetry. If you haven’t played it in years, allow us to refresh your memory. Have a friend stand directly behind you, facing the back of your head. Close your eyes and listen as your friend recites the following poem while gently pounding a fist against your back: “Concentrate, concentrate, concentrate on what I’m saying, people are dying, children are crying, concentrate, concentrate.” There’s more to the poem, which you can read here. But the end result is that you’ll get a glimpse into your future, or more specifically, how you’ll die. If you see the color orange, you’ll perish in a fire. If you see red, somebody is going to stab you. If you see brown, prepare to be buried alive. Only the color white is good news: It means you’ll make it to old age.  

18. Baby Blue

It’s been called a companion piece to Bloody Mary, except this version has a baby. Lock yourself inside a pitch-black bathroom, and fold your arms like you might be cradling a tiny baby—an infant that just so happens to be a demon spawn! Repeat the words “Baby Blue” exactly thirteen times. At that point, you should feel the emptiness in your arms start to take shape, and it’ll feel like you’re holding an actual baby. Keep saying “Baby Blue” and it’ll start to grow and squirm, clawing at your arms and possibly even crying for its mother.

Glance up at the mirror and you’ll see the reflection of a hideous woman looking back at you, snarling with evil bloodshot eyes that seem intent on killing you where you stand. Some people who’ve played this game swear that the reflection screams, “Give me back my baby!” This is when it’s time to dispose of the baby—some suggest by dropping it in the toilet—and getting the heck out of the bathroom. Hold onto that baby too long, and the angry demon mom will have her revenge on you. How, nobody really knows. The only people foolish enough not to drop a demon-baby when its mom shows up haven’t been heard from ever again.

19. See and Kill

If summoning ghosts and demons feels a bit too hardcore for you, we have something a little less nightmarish. It’ll still terrify you, but in a way that doesn’t seem quite so threatening. In this version of hide-and-seek, the person who’s “it” is playing the role of a Michael Myers-esque serial killer, on the rampage for more victims. So when you’re hiding, you’re not just trying to win the game; you’re also trying to survive.

Every time somebody is caught, they have to let out a bloodcurdling scream—as if, say, they’d been attacked with an axe or chainsaw, something straight out of a horror movie. These screams are designed to let the rest of the group know that somebody’s been caught, and also to add an extra element of fear and dread to the game. Imagine hiding under the bed, listening for footsteps, and suddenly the tension-filled silence is broken by a friend’s scream coming somewhere down the hall. Is he getting close? Have you picked the right hiding spot? Could you be next? It amps up ordinary scary games of hide-and-seek to another level, where you know you’re not technically in danger, but you’re still scared out of your wits.

20. The Corner Game

If you haven’t gotten the point by now, your house is infested with ghosts, and the only way to get them out (or at least identify where they’re at) is to perform some ridiculous ritual. Here’s another one designed just for the spirits who might be haunting your ceiling.

Begin by entering a dark room that you suspect of being inhabited by ghosts. Say your name aloud three times, and then you and up to four friends (misery loves company, right?) gather together in a corner, facing the wall, with your backs aimed towards the center of the room. Count down from three, and then everybody turns, clockwise, towards another corner. Count down from three again, and rotate again. After you’ve completed a full rotation, one member of your group will disappear. Don’t say anything. Don’t scream out loud. They’ve been taken to the spirit realm, but only temporarily. To get him or her back, simply reverse the process, with everybody saying their name backwards three times, and then turn on the lights. Your friend should reappear. Hopefully. (See, aren’t scary games awesome?)

21. The Dark Reflection Ritual

Breaking a mirror is said to bring seven years of bad luck, but this creepy ritual is said to have the exact opposite effect—assuming you follow it exactly. Find an old mirror, one you don’t mind shattering, and take a long hard look at your own reflection. Breathe onto the mirror—a step that’s sometimes called “anointing the mirror”—until it becomes slightly foggy. If you’re trying this with a group (recommended), everybody should breathe on it as well. Light a candle and hold it against the mirror, burning it slightly, and then finally smash the mirror with your foot.

With that, you’ve released a cloud of negative energy which will follow you for the next 48 hours.

Wait a second… why is this a good thing?! It’s said that if you survive the night—and you can outsmart bad luck by holding your breath, some believe, which makes you briefly invisible to angry spirits—you’ll be rewarded with a full year of limitless good luck. Or at least that’s the story. We’re still stuck on the “survive the night” part, which sounds, well, terrifying.

22. The Binoculars Game

This game was originally posted by a Reddit user who says he learned it from “a creepy book that has been passed around my family.” Um, that sounds like the setup from a Hollywood horror movie, but, sure, for the sake of frightful fun, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

The game unfolds like this: You and a friend visit an empty house. You anchor a piece of rope near the front door and tie your friend to the other end. Then write a message on a piece of paper (“We welcome you. You shall not be harmed.” or something) and slip it under the door. Both of you wait until 10:30 p.m., at which time you split off from your friend and explore the dark house, repeating the phrase, “Come, come, come with me. We’ll have lots of fun. Come with me.” Then, return to your friend and put your ear to the door.

Do you hear a faint knocking? Good—or rather, bad. It means “he” is on his way. Run upstairs with your binoculars and look out the nearest window. Do you see a shadowy figure in the distance moving in a menacing manner towards the house? That means your ritual worked! Now it’s time to panic and try to remember if you locked all the doors. Shout from the window, “Forgive, for I am mistaken!” Close your eyes and open them again quickly. If the figure is no longer there, you’re saved. If he’s still coming, well, it’s been nice knowing you!

23. Red Door Yellow Door

If you trust a friend enough to lead you on a tour down the murky corridors and dark corners of your own brain, we’ve got just the fun slumber party game for you. Start by laying on the floor and letting the “guide” massage your temples while chanting, “Red door, yellow door, any other color door” until you slip into a deep trance. From there, he or she leads you through an imaginary house, with hallways and rooms that are unfamiliar to you. They’ll ask questions and give instructions like, “What color are the doors?” and, “Open the red door and walk inside.” You might end up encountering mysterious-looking strangers in this unfamiliar world. Word to the wise: Don’t talk to them. They might be—come on, you should know this by now—evil.

24. Charlie Charlie

It’s like a Magic 8 Ball, but specifically for a ghost kid named Charlie. All you need is a sheet of paper and two pencils. Draw a giant X on the paper, and label two of the quadrants “no” and the other two “yes.” Now, place the pencils over the paper, crossing them in the middle so they create four separate boxes with four different answers. Now it’s time to ask questions of Charlie, the (hopefully friendly) ghost who might be lurking nearby.

Begin by asking aloud the following question: “Charlie, Charlie, are you here?” If one of the pencils rolls towards yes, then you’re officially in the company of a bona fide poltergeist. This game was a viral sensation online a few years ago, and a few people were insisting at the time that Charlie is a Mexican demon. We’re not sure if that’s true, or even if a ghost of any nationality is interested in visiting your home and answering yes-or-no questions with a pencil. But if it’s true, be prepared to be amazed.

25. Three Kings

The mirror game to end all mirror scary games, it became a sensation online, with Reddit users sharing stories about their experiences. The rules are extremely specific, and cannot be done out of order or with anything less than to-a-tee precision.

You begin with a large and empty room, ideally without windows. Starting at just before midnight, put a chair (that’s the King’s throne) in the center of the room, facing north, and two other chairs—the Queen and Joker chairs, respectively—facing the King’s throne. Then, place two large mirrors on both the Queen and Joker chairs, facing each other (and you). Finally, plant a fan pointed behind the throne, and have it blow a gentle breeze.

The ritual begins at exactly 3:33 a.m., with you sitting on the throne while holding a candle. Don’t look directly into the mirror, but in your peripheral vision, you should see, well, something. As one Reddit user reported, “I started hearing things around me in the room, breathing, ticking, a knock here and there,” he said. “I felt like the one on my left was trying to like…lure me from my chair, it wanted to show me things.” E-gads! Try this one at your own risk, but if you’re up for a seriously freaky evening, this will do the job.

26. The Little Finger

Inspired by a Japanese urban legend, about a story that’s so powerful that just reading it will cause you to have an unsettling dream, in which a woman asks you to help her find her missing little finger. You can respond with yes or no, but if you agree and you don’t find the finger for her, it’s possible that you may be trapped in this particular nightmare forever. Follow this link to the story, but be forewarned, just reading it is enough to make you dream about it in exactly seven days. And when that happens, you’re on your own.

27. The Dice Game

Gambling can be dangerous, especially when it’s more than your money on the line. That’s the basic idea behind this super-spooky dice game, in which the stakes are as high (or as deadly) as you want them to be.

You start with two dice, one that’s placed inside a cup and the other in your hand. While standing next to a table with the first die in your hand, say aloud, “The game is set. Care to make your wager?” Silently, imagine your greatest desire. Exit the room and wait exactly seven minutes, and then return. If the cup with the second die is now turned upside down, that means that something in the room—perhaps something not human—has accepted your bet.

Roll the die in your hand and let it land on the table. Pick up the cup and see what number is on the die that’s hidden inside. If your number is higher, you win. If the die under the cup is higher, sorry, but you lose. Wait, did you only imagine what you wanted to win, not what you were offering this spirit if it won? Uh-oh. Leave the room immediately, and hope that, when it arrives to take its prize, it won’t be for something you can’t afford to lose.

28. The Candyman

We don’t know who this “Candyman” is supposed to be exactly, but he doesn’t sound friendly. The game is played much like Bloody Mary: you’re in a closet, the lights are out, and you say the name of the person (or thing) you’re trying to summon. In this case, it’s the Candyman. Say his name five times. At that point, you have just seconds to turn on the light before the Candyman kills you in some horrible, unspeakable manner. Why, you might wonder, would anybody summon a demon in a dark bathroom just so he can kill you if you don’t find a light switch in the dark fast enough? Good question. We don’t know why either, but maybe that’s what makes a game like this so thrilling. You know it’s probably not real—and if it is, frankly, no sane person would attempt it—but the rush of excitement and fear makes it somehow appealing.

29. The Ghost Paper Challenge

Let’s face it, ghosts have a lot of free time on their hands. There’s not much to do but wander around the attic and feel lonely. So reaching out to them with questions is always a nice gesture. Also, it has the added bonus of being bone-chillingly terrifying for us living people. But if you’re curious enough to see if any ghosts occupying your home are open to a Q&A, here’s one ritual that may help bridge the gap. Start by bringing a candle, a stack of paper, and a pencil to a room with no windows. Wait until exactly 3:00 a.m., then knock on the door three times, each time repeating this phrase: “Spirit of the door, I welcome you; make yourself present and come through.”

Using only light from the candle, write your question down on the paper and slip it halfway under the door. If it’s pulled out the other side, congratulations, you’ve got a ghost visitor who wants to talk. You can keep asking questions as long as it keeps taking your hand-written notes from under the door. But when it stops, as the Ghost Machine website warns, that’s when it’s time to “apologize aloud, thank the spirit for its time, and extinguish the candle.” Congrats! You’ve just freaked yourself out in one of the best scary games.

30. Dry Bones

Hide-and-seek is so much more fun if you’re playing with a demon—and it’s infinitely more fun if winning means your wildest dreams will come true. That’s the theory behind this macabre version of the childhood classic.

Dry Bones is a demon, and he (we’re assuming demons are dudes) loves to play hide and seek. To invite him, go into a dark bathroom just after midnight and strike a match. Close your eyes and imagine your prizemake it something achievable, like a promotion at work or a new can’t-keep-your-hands-off-each-other relationship. When you hear moaning, that means Dry Bones has accepted your challenge, and the game is on.

Find a hiding place and wait to see if Dry Bones can find you. You have until 3:00 a.m., at which point you can come out and loudly demand that Dry Bones leaves. But if he figures out where you are before then… Oh. Right. We forgot to mention what’s in it for Dry Bones. He’s playing for your soul. Just think about that as you’re sitting in a closet for three hours and anticipating that, at any moment, a demon could throw open the door and sink its fangs into you and condemn you to an eternity of damnation. Hope you wished for something good!

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