Statues (game)

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Statues (or rather its Red light/Green light variant) being played at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park's Ropes course.

Statues, also called red light, green light (US) or grandmother's footsteps (UK), is a popular children's game, often played in Australia, Finland, Sweden, and the United States. How the game is played varies throughout different regions of the world.

General rules[edit]

  1. A person starts out as the "Curator" and stands at the end of a field. Everyone else playing stands at the far end (distance depends upon playing area selected). The object of the game is for a "Statue" to tag the Curator, thereby becoming the Curator and resetting the game.
  2. The Curator turns their back to the field, and the "Statues" attempt to race across and tag the Curator.
  3. Whenever the Curator turns around, the Statues must freeze in position and hold that for as long as the Curator looks at them. The Curator can even walk around the Statues, examining them. However, the Curator needs to be careful – whenever his back is turned, Statues are free to move.
  4. If a Statue is caught moving, they are sent back to the starting line to begin again (or thrown out of that round, whichever way is preferred.) Usually, the honesty of the Curator isn't enforced, since being a Statue is more desirable.


Red light/Green light (sometimes abbreviated as RLGL) is a variation of statues. The "it" person stands at one end of the playing field, with the rest of the players at the other end. "It" turns their back to the others and calls out "Green light!" or "Red Light! Green Light! 1, 2, 3!" The players then run as fast as they can towards "it". At any time, "it" can face the players, calling out "Red light", and the others must freeze in place. If anyone fails to stop, they are out or must return to the starting line. Other variations include calling out "Yellow light" as a diversion, or where they must walk instead of run to "it". The first player to reach the person who is "it" wins and becomes "it" for the next round. In certain regions this game may be known as "sneak up on granny"; in this version the person who is "it" is the "granny", and does not call out "red light" or "green light".

Another variation of the Red light/Green light game was altered as a team building exercise. It follows RLGL rules with exception that if anybody moves the whole team must return to the starting line. Also the object of the game is for the players to "steal" an "object" positioned near the "it" person and return with it to the other side of the field. Once the "object" was moved it has to stay hidden from "it" who has several guesses as to who has it at the moment. If guessed successfully than the whole team must return to the starting line.

In England, the game is either called "Grandmother's Footsteps" / "Grandma's Footsteps", where the person who is "it" turns to make sure that the players are not moving if they hear movement, or called "Mr Wolf's Dinnertime", where "Mr Wolf" has to try and catch anyone moving - if "Mr Wolf" cries 'dinnertime' then s/he has to race everyone back to the start line, trying to catch as much 'dinner' as possible.

In the Netherlands and Belgium, the game is called "één, twee, drie, piano" (one, two, three, piano) or "Annemaria koekoek" ("Annemaria cuckoo"). The caller counts 1, 2, 3, and then the caller turns when he says "piano", or calls "Annemaria koekoek", turning on the last word. In Mexico there is another variation of this game. It is called "1, 2, 3, calabaza" (one, two, three, pumpkin). The caller counts loudly saying 1, 2, 3, and then faces the players when he says "calabaza."

Another Australian variant, "London" the person who is it can spell out L. O. N. D. O. N. before turning, OR call "London bridge fell down" - the first, the players have to freeze, the second, the players have to sit (or at least not be standing) when the "it" player turns.

In France, a variation of this game is called "1, 2, 3, soleil" (one, two, three, sun). The caller counts loudly saying 1, 2, 3, and then faces the players when he says "soleil". In Spain, the game is called "1, 2, 3, escondite inglés" (one, two, three, English hideaway) or "1, 2, 3, pollito inglés" (one, two, three, English chick). Similar to the French version of the game, the caller counts 1, 2, 3, and then turns when he says "escondite inglés" or "pollito inglés". In Greece the game is called "στρατιωτακια ακουνητα" which literally translates as "immobile little soldiers". There are some variations to the game but most of them go according to the Spanish model. In Portugal, the game is called "Um, dois, três, macaquinho do chinês" (one, two, three, Chinese little monkey). The basic form is similar to the French and Spanish versions. In one variant, if "it" (the Chinese little monkey) cannot find the person who moves, "it" tickles each participant starting with the person closest to the wall. If any participant moves, he or she must go back to the start.

In some regions of Italy, the game is called "Un, due, tre, stella" (one, two, three, star); in others "L'orologio di Milano fa tic tac" (Milan's clock tick-tocks) and "Un, due tre, per le vie di Roma! (one, two, three, through the streets of Rome). The Italian version of the game matches the French and Spanish ones.

In Sweden it's called "ett, två, tre, röda lyktan stopp" (one, two, three, red lantern stop) and also follows the French / Spanish pattern.

In Poland, the game is called "Raz, dwa trzy, baba jaga patrzy!" ("One, two three, the hag is watching!") or "Raz, dwa, trzy, patrzę!" ("One, two, three, I'm watching!"). The caller after shouting that, turns and looks at the others and they cannot move. In some versions, the caller may come close to "frozen" ones, look at them and try to startle them without touching them.

In Israel, the game is called "אחת, שתיים, שלוש, דג מלוח" (one, two, three, herring/salted fish).

In Czech Republic, the game is called "Cukr, káva, limonáda" due rhymes recited by "it". Those rhymes: "Cukr, káva, limonáda, čaj, rum, bum!" and they literally mean "Sugar, coffe, lemonade, tea, rum, boom!" with the word "boom" functioning as "Red light". Rhymes are recited at any speed and not necessarily aloud, though it is considered fair to at least mumble them aloud.

A variation is played in Saudi Arabia. It is called "الحكم" (Al-Ḥukm - The Judgement), where the "It" is the "الحاكم" (Al-Ḥākim - the Judge). The Judge covers their face without saying anything and the other players try to reach them and touch them before they see them moving. If anyone is seen moving by the Judge they will have to return to the end of the playing field and start all over again. This variation includes a special characteristic which is "the Judgement", that occurs irregularly, decided by the Judge. Each player requests the Judge to move for any number of steps, and the Judge may accept the request, decline it, or even make their own "Judgement" (e.g. 'You move two steps to the back' or 'You go ahead to the same level as that player', etc.).

In Korea, the game is called "Mugoonghwa kkotchi pieutseumnida" (무궁화 꽃이 피었습니다).

In India, the game is popular with children and is often called "London Statue."

In Estonia, the game is called "kivikuju" (stone statue).

In Puerto Rico, the game is called 1-2-3 Pesca'o(1-2-3 Fish)

In Finland the game is called Punainen valo vilahti (Red light flashed) or Peili (Mirror).

In Brazil this game is called "Batatinha Frita 1 2 3" (French Fries 1 2 3)

In the Philippines this game is called "Pepsi, 7-Up, Coca-cola, Stop".

Darumasan ga Koronda[edit]

(Audio) Several children play the game in a park.

Darumasan ga Koronda (だるまさんがころんだ?) is a Japanese version of the game for at least three players. The name of the game literally means “The Daruma doll fell down.” There are many variations of the game and slight rule changes based on region or merely the group of people playing the game. One known variation is that in Osaka and the surrounding area, this game is called "Bonsan ga He o Koita" (“a Buddhist monk farted”).

One person is chosen as the Oni. All other participants act as common players. Before play begins, a starting line is drawn, and the Oni stands at some distance away from the starting line, in front of a tree, wall, or other fixed object.

The game begins with the players shouting "hajime no ippo" (Taking the first step!) As this is shouted, the players on the starting line jump one step in any direction, but usually towards the Oni.

Main gameplay[edit]

The Oni, or the "it" player faces away from the other players towards the tree or the wall, so that he or she cannot see them. "It" then chants a spell: "Daruma-san ga koronda". The other players approach "it" while this spell is spoken aloud, coming as near as possible.

When "it" finishes saying the spell, he or she can then turn around and look at the players. The players should stop their actions immediately when the last word is spoken and try not to move while "it" is looking at them, or they can be called out. "It" checks to see if any player is moving. If nobody is moving, "it" turns around again, and repeats the spell.

When "it" does spot somebody moving, he or she calls that player's name. The player whose name is called upon is caught. That player then has to go to the place where "it" is and stand holding one of his or her hands. This player may not run away or help the other players. If all the players are caught in this way by "it" (the captured players chain along, holding each other's hands), the person first caught is the loser and becomes the next "it" person.

If a player reaches "it" or any caught players, he or she gets to free them from "it". To free them he or she shouts "Kitta!" (I cut you loose) and makes a gesture of slicing between the clasped hands of two players or by touching the back of "it". Freed players run as fast as they can away from "it". Players not freed may not run away. "It" then turns as soon as possible and shouts "Tomare!" (Stop!). Every player must stop immediately at this point, but is not recaptured unless "it" touches them under a certain rule (which varies from area to area).

For instance, after such a jailbreak, "it" can take up to five steps from where he or she is standing in order to touch other players. If "it" touches every other player, the first player touched is the loser (in the typical rule), and becomes the next "it" person. If "it" cannot reach everyone, then he or she remains "it" for the next round.

The rules may vary from generation to generation, from area to area.

Strategy and style[edit]

A popular strategy for this game, when playing as the Oni, is to chant at varying speeds or to chant so fast that it is dangerous for any player to move at all. Players often strike strange poses when stopping to show off skill and it is quite common for the best player to stand right behind the Oni but not touch him. This player then may taunt the Oni when he turns around.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]