Here’s How to Play the Shadow Box Game Taking TikTok by Storm

Haylee Thorson - Author

Apr. 27 2023, Published 12:49 p.m. ET

Closeup portrait of a woman pointing upward
Source: Getty Images

If there’s one thing TikTok never fails to produce, it’s a viral trend. And the shadow box trend is downright hilarious. “Shadowboxing,” also known as “Ish,” is taking off on the vertical video app. However, given the game’s fast-paced nature, many users are confused about its rules.

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Upon first glance, the shadow box trend appears to be nothing but a chaotic compilation of disorderly pointing. However, once you get a grasp on how to play, it couldn’t be easier to recreate. Here’s the 411 on everything you need to know.

TikTok creator @cyrian._ plays the shadow box game with a girl in his class
Source: TikTok/@cyrian._
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What is the shadow box game on TikTok?

TikTok’s shadow box game has taken the app by storm, but this isn’t the first time the trend has gone viral online. The practice dates back quite some time, with the game gaining considerable traction on social media in 2019.

Did you know Reddit users liken the trend to the “Look Away” game on Mario Party 2?

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Sometimes called the “pointing game,” the trend requires quick reflexes and meticulous attention to detail. The rules are simple: direct your gaze in the opposite direction of where your opponent points. And if you happen to look where the other player is pointing, you lose.

While the rules sound easy to follow, many shadow box players can get tripped up relatively quickly. With opponents increasing the stakes by incorporating complex movements into the game, the straightforward nature of the game becomes muddled.

Case in point? The slew of TikTok creators adding their tricky twists to the trend.

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Here is how to play the shadow box game. TikTok creators are upping the stakes.

As mentioned, the rules of the shadow box game are a piece of cake — in theory. Players can take turns pointing left, right, up, and down, and their opponent needs to look in the opposite direction each time.

Or, one opponent can take the lead, with the other person not following suit. And to level things up, you can take a page from countless TikTok creators’ books.

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For example, @cyrian._ used the shadow box game to shoot his shot at a girl in his class. While the game began as normal, the creator waited until the end to make his move.

When he had the other player intentionally move her head from side to side, he flirtatiously grabbed her chin — prompting her to shriek in delight and look over at her friend. “Used shadowboxing rizz on the cute girl,” the creator wrote. “THAT WAS SMOOTH,” one user commented.

Another TikTok posted by @barstoolsports showed a principal pulling a fast one on a student. After prefacing that she was “slow,” the principal incorporated two quick, back-to-back points at the end — leading the student to lose.

“Not while she was LEARNING,” someone said, followed by crying emojis. “BRO GOT USED AS AN EXAMPLE.”

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