Hot lava (game)

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Hot lava (or the floor is lava or Pirates) is a game, usually played by children, in which the players imagine that the floor or ground is made of lava (or any other lethal substance, such as acid or quicksand), and thus avoid touching the ground lest they get burned or otherwise injured. The players stay off of the floor by standing on furniture or the room's architecture. The players generally may not remain still, and are required to move from one piece of furniture to the next. The game can be played with a group or alone for self amusement. There may even be a goal, to which the players must race. The game may also be played outdoors in playgrounds or similar areas. Players can also set up obstacles to make the game more challenging. This is a variation of an obstacle course.

Typically, any individual can start the game just by shouting "The floor is lava!". Any player remaining on the floor in the next few seconds is "out" and can not rejoin the game for some period of time.

There often are tasks and/or items/places that can "regenerate" lost body parts/health. Depending on the players, these could be embarrassing tasks, or simple things like finding a particular person.

In one version called "Hot Lava Monster", usually played on playgrounds, players must stay off the ground (sand, rubber, woodchips, etc.) and on the play equipment. The person who is posing as 'monster' can be on the 'lava' with the objective of attempting to tag another player. 'Monster' must try to tag or catch the other players. In some versions, 'monster' is not allowed to touch certain obstacles, such as wooden platforms or may only touch objects of a certain colour. The "Monster" player must navigate across structures such as across playground slides, Monkey bars, Ropes courses, etc. instead of the main platform.

Another version known as labal [Leaping And Bouldering Avoiding Land] follows very similar rules, however, much like parkour, the goal is to get from point A to point B in the fastest way possible, without of course touching the lava, or designated land in this case.

Cultural references[edit]

The game was referenced in The Simpsons episode "Catch 'Em If You Can", where Lisa and Bart decide to play after finding their parents in a hotel room. This prompts Homer to declare, "All I wanted was a second honeymoon, and now the floor is made of lava."[1]

Another reference to "Hot Lava" was in Family Guy when the nudist family's son comes over to the Griffins' house and when he leaves Peter places coasters and says, "don't step on the hot lava, the carpet is hot lava."

The hot lava game was referenced on Comedy Central Presents Episode 23 in season 7 by comedian Daniel Tosh. Tosh stated that it didn't matter what form of the game you played, (lava, acid, quicksand, etc.), resorting to playing said game meant one thing; "You were poor."

A variation of the theme was used in Roald Dahl's short story "The Wish".[2]

On the television show Adventure Time with Finn and Jake, Jake instigates a game of The Floor Is Lava that becomes reality due to Jake's powerful imagination.

The television show New Girl also uses The Floor is Lava as a component of the drinking game True American in the episodes "Normal" and "Cooler."

In "Inside Out", Riley plays this game when she is a young child.

At PCH Grill located in Anaheim, California, children participate in the hot lava game during the Lilo & Stitch Breakfast Buffet. An automated voice recorded on the P.A. system to alert the hula dancing children who are engaging with Lilo or Stitch. When the voice says, "Hot lava", they'll know to freeze while pretending to take cover from an erupting volcano.

The Community episode "Geothermal Escapism" centers around a high-stakes version of the game.[3][4][5]

The video game Hot Lava challenges players to traverse various environments without touching the floor.[6]

In the video game Half Life 2, most of the chapter "Sandtraps" revolves around crossing a beach in a similar manner to The Floor Is Lava, although you can step on the sand, it releases a hoard of Antlions.


  1. ^ "The Simpsons - Season 15, Episode 18: Catch 'em if You Can". Retrieved 2015-03-10. 
  2. ^ "The Wish by Roald Dahl". Retrieved 2015-03-10. 
  3. ^ "Watch Community Online - Streaming at Hulu". Retrieved 2015-03-10. 
  4. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2015-03-10. 
  5. ^ "Community - Show page - TV Listing |". 2009-09-17. Retrieved 2015-03-10. 
  6. ^ "Hot Lava". 2015-03-28. Retrieved 2015-03-28. 

7.[1] - labal website and rules of play.

  1. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2015-09-01.