Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Season 1 of Squid Game.
At first glance, the Netflix sensation Squid Game might seem like a harmless drama with creative competitions based on children's playground games. But in the show, the seemingly harmless games are deadly. And some viewers may need a little insight into what all the games are supposed to be.
So, what are all the children's games played in Squid Game? Read on to find out.
Red Light, Green Light
The first game in Squid Game is Red Light, Green Light. In the show, masked armed men stand at the ready to shoot any players who break the rules. A larger-than-life mechanical version of a little girl stands several yards from where the players begin. She says the words "red light" to mean stop and "green light" to mean go. The first player to reach the end of the line without being caught wins. But in the show, if a player is still moving when she turns around, they get shot.
In real life, the game is much more innocent. It's played the same way, but without armed guards and there's an actual kid who shouts, "Red light" and "green light" before they turn around to catch someone. Whoever is still moving despite the "red light" is simply eliminated from the game.
Dalgona Candy Challenge
This one is a little less well-known to some of Squid Game's viewers. At least, the American ones. In Korean culture, Dalgona is a honeycomb sugar candy. In the show, players have to carve out the shape of their candy using a needle before the time runs out. If they fail to do it in the allotted time or they break the shape inside the candy they are — you guessed it — shot and killed on the spot.
This competition isn't necessarily a children's game in real life. But the candy is real. And, according to Newsweek, it's tradition for kids to try and eat around the shape without breaking it. If they do break the shape in the process, they aren't punished, though, and they go on eating the rest of the treat.
Tug of War
As we know, the real-life children's game of tug of war is played by two teams pulling the rope back and forth to see which team can get the upper hand and get the other team to fall down. And in Squid Game, it's not too different.
Whichever team loses, though, plummets to their death, since they play on a narrow boardwalk high above the ground.
There aren't many common American children's marble games, but there are several that children in Korea are familiar with. According to Korean folk culture, Guseulchigi is a series of marble games that include throwing marbles into holes, hitting targets with them, and guessing how many marbles opponents have in order to win them. These are all included in Squid Game.
In the show, pairs of two play various marble games in the fourth competition. The players are each given 10 marbles. They then have to play a marble game of their choice in order to win all 10 of their competitor's marbles. The person who loses all of their marbles is killed. The winner moves on to the next round.
The Glass Bridge
The glass bridge is part of the second to last game in Squid Game. The closest thing you might find in real life is something like "the floor is lava." In that game, kids have to hop over the ground or the floor and land on a pillow or other surfaces to avoid the floor altogether. If they fall or slip, they lose. It's pretty harmless.
In Squid Game, the final 16 players have to cross a suspended bridge made of two rows of glass panes. They have to jump to each one, but they aren't told which panes are made of tempered glass and which ones are regular glass, which breaks under impact. It's one of the more stressful competitions.
The final game in Squid Game is where the title of the show comes from. It's described as a childhood game wherein kids play on a court shaped like a squid. They're divided into two teams, one of which protects the entrance to the squid to prevent the other team from entering and eventually getting to the head, which is the winning spot on the court.
And, as it's explained in Squid Game: "In order to win, the attackers must tap the small closed-off space on the squid's head with their foot. But if someone on the defense manages to push you outside the squid's boundary, you die. … Once you tap the squid's head, you win and yell out, 'Victory.'"
In the show, the final two players face off against each other in a reproduction of this exact game. However, halfway through the actual game, they break out into a knife fight, and at the end, one of them dies, resulting in the winner.
It's yet another deadly twist on a game that would otherwise be pretty innocent.
Squid Game is now streaming on Netflix.