The floor is lava

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Swamp Crossing game where kids have to come up with a team strategy that will allow them to cross a "swamp" using limited number of portable islands (boards) without drowning (touching the ground).

The floor is lava[1][2][3][4][5] is a physical activity game that is enjoyed by people of all ages.

Rules and variations[edit]

In "The Floor is Lava", 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 the floor by standing on furniture or the room's architecture.[5] 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, items or places that can "regenerate" lost body parts or 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.

Factual accuracy[edit]

By using the Stefan–Boltzmann law and taking convection into account, University of Leicester scientists have calculated that a high stakes version of the game would not be playable with actual lava, as the air above the lava would have a temperature too high for humans to survive for more than a few seconds.[5]

In popular culture[edit]


This activity is addressed in the 2015 animated film Inside Out, in which it is enjoyed by a girl named Riley Andersen in her childhood. The activity then becomes part of her long-term memory, creating a lake of lava inside her mind, filled with floating architecture. After being accidentally sent to long-term memory, two of her chief emotions, Joy and Sadness, must cross the lake in search of a way to return to their control headquarters. The former enjoys reenacting the activity to find a way back, but the latter complains about the experience being too interactive.

Video games[edit]

  • As with the film Inside Out, the activity is also referenced in the Inside Out playset for the video game Disney Infinity 3.0. There is at least one sequence where the player must lead any of Riley's five emotions to cross the aforementioned lava lake, although Anger can safely wade through the lava without injury.
  • Ketchapp released an official mobile game adaptation of the activity in the summer of 2017, titled The Floor is Lava.[6]
  • Klei Entertainment is currently developing another video game adaptation of the activity, titled Hot Lava. It is played from a first-person perspective.[7]


  1. ^ Makuch, Eddie (29 August 2016). "Extreme Version of "The Floor Is Lava" Is Now a Video Game and It Looks Great". GameSpot. 
  2. ^ "A first look at Klei's Hot Lava, a literal take on 'the floor is lava'". Destructoid. 
  3. ^ "Childhood game 'The Floor is Lava' is being turned into a videogame - Kill Screen". Kill Screen. 31 August 2016. 
  4. ^ Liszewski, Andrew (September 7, 2016). "Remember Playing 'The Floor Is Hot Lava' As a Kid? It's Now a Video Game". Gizmodo. Retrieved February 19, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c Fosberry, Deven; Lakhotia, Pratik (2014). "Playing 'The Floor is Lava' in Real Life". Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics. University of Leicester. 3: 37–38 – via Google Books. 
  6. ^ "Google Play Store listing for The Floor Is Lava". Google Play. 11 June 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2018. 
  7. ^ Koch, Cameron (April 22, 2016). "The Floor Is Lava In This Video Game Adaptation Of Every Kid's Imagination". Tech Times. Archived from the original on September 15, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hwang, Tim (2018). "On the Architecture of the Folk Game: The Case of 'The Floor is Lava'". doi:10.2139/ssrn.3122458Freely accessible.