A 19th-century painting of three children playing hide and seek in a forest
|Age range||no limit|
|Setup time||<90 seconds|
|Playing time||no limit|
|Random chance||Very Low|
|Skill(s) required||Running, Tracking, Hiding, Observation|
Hide-and-seek or hide-and-go-seek is a children's game in which a number of players conceal themselves in the environment, to be found by one or more seekers. The game is played by one player chosen at random (designated as being "it") counting to a predetermined number while the other players hide. After reaching the number, the player who is "it" attempts to locate all concealed players.  The game is an example of an oral tradition, as it is commonly passed down by children to younger children.
The game can end in one of several ways depending on the geographical location in which the players learned about the game originally, and other cultural factors as well. In the most common variation of the game, the player chosen as "it" locates all players, the player found last is the winner and is chosen to be it in the next game. In other versions, after the first player is caught or if no other players can be found over a period of time, "it" calls out "Ollie Ollie oxen free" (or "all outs, all in free" or many other variations) to signal the other hiders to return to base for the next round. Some versions in eastern Massachusetts, Base is referred to as "Ghouls" with players trying to reach Ghouls safely without being caught. When reaching Ghouls, players would call out "My Ghouls 1,2,3. In yet another version, when players are caught, they help the "it" seek out others. The phrase "Ollie Ollie oxen free" may derive from the German "Alle, Alle auch sind frei!" ("Everyone, everyone else is also free!") Since there have been a large influx of German peoples to the United States since the 1800s bringing culture and loan words, this seems a likely explanation for the origin of this phrase and aspect of the game in the United States.
Different versions of the game are played around the world, under a variety of names. One derivative game is called "sardines", in which only one person hides and the others must find them, hiding with them when they do so. The hiding places become progressively more cramped, like sardines in a tin. The last person to find the hiding group is the loser. A. M. Burrage calls this version of the game 'Smee' in his 1931 ghost story of the same name.
In one variant, once all hiders have been located, the game then becomes a game of tag where the "it" chases after all the other players and the first person tagged becomes the "it".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Category:Hide and seek.|
- Trafton, J. Gregory; Schultz, Alan; Perznowski, Dennis; Bugajska, Magdalena; Adams, William; Cassimatis, Nicholas; Brock, Derek (August, 2003). Children and robots learning to play hide and seek. Naval Research Laboratory. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
- Ollie Ollie oxen free, World Wide Words, Michael Quinion
- "hide-and-seek". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
- The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories, OUP 1986.
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