What it is: An intense, active, get-your-adrenaline-pumping game, one of my all-time favorites. It’s also about a bajillion times more fun than regular dodgeball. I played regularly with a group of friends in high school/early college.
Best for: Group of 6 to 9 players.
What you need: The materials for this game are very specific and might be a little hard to come by, but it’s worth it in the end. First, you need an enclosed space with no or very little furniture or features inside (and for sure nothing breakable), and one that can be made pitch black. Yes, probably rare. We always used the gym at our church building, which was perfect. With everything put away and the doors closed, it was safe, enclosed, and pitch black. It was a half-size gym, which was also perfect; depending on how many people were playing, a full-size gym was sometimes too big.
You also need one or two (depending on your number of players) glow-in-the-dark dodgeballs. I think we got these at a sports store, but it’s just your basic red rubber kickball…except green and glow-in-the-dark. I found one on Amazon (commission link) that’s not green, but apparently still glows in the dark.
Then, you need players: probably about five or six for one ball, or however many more you want if you have two balls. And tell the players to come in their athletic gear, because this game is intense.
How to play: First, prep the area by making sure there’s nothing in the room to trip over, blocking out any lights you need to, making sure the dodgeballs have soaked up enough light to glow, and telling players to stretch. (Haha, kidding about that last one – mostly…) Then designate one area of the room (we always used the stage) as the place for players to go when they’re out.
Then, when you’re ready to play, divide the players roughly into two groups and have them stand on opposite walls of the room. Place the dodgeballs on a line down the middle. Then turn off the lights. The game starts immediately.
There are no teams; it’s just every man for himself. And unlike regular dodgeball, there is no dividing line. But like regular dodgeball, the object of the game is to peg other players with the ball, getting them out, and at the same time avoid being pegged yourself. The trick is, in the pitch-black room, the only thing you can see are the dodgeballs. It should be dark enough that you can’t even see the other players.
So when the lights go out, players can make a choice: they can fade into the darkness and hide, or be daring and make a grab for one of the balls. Once you’re holding a ball, you try to peg the other players and get them out – which is challenging, admittedly, since you can’t see anything. You can use your hearing, or your luck. Or, if you’re playing with two balls, you can watch the other ball – as soon as it moves, you know someone’s next to it. But if you are playing with two balls, be careful: don’t hold onto yours too long or someone else might get you out! (However, you can use the ball you’re holding to block someone else’s peg; as long as the peg didn’t touch you, you’re still in.)
Players are free to move anywhere around the room, usually trying to stay hidden, but also trying to make a move to grab and throw a ball when they can. It’s largely a game of strategy. There are no teams, but sometimes players form alliances. Anyone is free to grab a dodgeball when one’s available.
If you get pegged, you yell “I’m out!” and make your way to the designated sit-here-once-you’re-out area to visit with your other friends who are out, or provide commentary for the game (pretty creative commentary, since it’s pitch black…). Oh, it’s a good idea to make a lot of noise once you’re out; you don’t want someone mistaking you for a player and pegging you again. And, like regular dodgeball, if someone tries to peg you but you catch the ball, the person who threw it is out. Also, only pegs from the neck down count (no aiming high allowed).
So that’s basically the game. Everyone sneaks around the gym, using his or her own tactics (make daring runs for the ball? Shout out confusing comments? Try to trick the other players into giving their locations away? Hide in the shadows until the end? Whatever you want.) As more people get out, it’s harder for the players still left to find people to peg. Some games can last a good long while. But the game keeps going until one person, the winner, remains.
To play again, turn on the lights, let the balls soak up some more glow, take a break, then start again. My friends and I loved this game: it’s a great adrenaline rush, with lots of stealth and sneakiness involved. And it was always fun to watch for awesome events, like a mid-air collision between two balls, or, the best, when someone would accidentally hit the light switch with the ball and the lights would come on (we’d all cheer at that point).
Disclaimer: This is a pretty hard-core game. In fact, my sister just may have broken her nose while playing…so please be careful. We always started each game with a prayer for safety. It can be dangerous (as you can imagine) with people running, throwing, and dodging in a pitch-black room. Avoid sprinting or fast movements (to avoid running into other players). And I would only recommend this game for teens or older.