Previously: The Maiden’s Gamble.
Although the ritual known as the Lights Out game (no relation to the Tiger Electronics handheld game of the same name from the ’90s, although whether it’s connected in any way to this short film or its subsequent feature film adaptation has yet to be seen) has an extensive history in the Reddit post in which I first found it, I suspect that, like The Maiden’s Gamble, it’s more fakelore than folklore. Indeed, I’ve only found it in two other places besides Reddit, both of which use the exact same instructions, copied and pasted, word for word.
It is, however, an interesting idea nonetheless — one that reminds me in some ways of the Candles Game, although it’s much less of a fire hazard. That doesn’t mean the danger is any less, though; in fact, it might be much greater.
Lights Out is technically a two-player game… but it’s a two-player game in the way that, say, the Gambler’s Game is.
You’re Player One.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
Who — or what — Player Two is, though… well, that’s harder to answer.
As always, play at your own risk.
- One principal (“Player One”).
- One building (“Arena”) which satisfies the following conditions:
- It must be enclosed and self-contained (that is, it cannot connect to any other buildings).
- It must have at least eight rooms.
- Each room must have electricity and its own light source.
- An object of personal value to Player One.
- A piece of paper and a writing implement.
- A wish or desire.
Before You Begin:
- Prepare the Arena. Test all light switches; replace burnt-out lightbulbs; rearrange or remove any furnishings or other items within rooms which might impede your ability to access light switches; prop doors open if desired; etc.
- Prepare yourself (Player One). It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with the layout of the Arena and with the exact locations of all light switches. You may enlist the help of an assistant to perform trial runs if desired.
- Empty the Arena of all other living creatures.
- Find and learn the incantation ritual.
- NOTE: The incantation ritual is not included in these instructions. The act of searching for, locating, and learning the incantation ritual is essential for entry into the game. Think of it as a test, of sorts; one must have both the drive and the patience to find it before one is granted access to the game itself.
- Begin anytime between midnight and 4am.
- Shut and lock all doors that lead to the outside from the Arena. (These doors should not be the doors through which you will exit or enter any of the Arena’s rooms.)
- Shut and lock all windows in the Arena.
- Choose a room to be Player Two’s starting room.
- Place your object of personal value in Player Two’s starting room.
- Assign the status of Player Two’s room by turning the light on or off. If you turn the light on, the room is assigned to the “lights on” status. If you turn the light off, it is assigned to the “lights off” status. It is recommended that Player Two’s room be assigned to the “lights off” status, although the choice is yours. Player Two’s goal is set by the status of their starting room.
- Exit Player Two’s starting room.
- Assign all remaining rooms in the Arena to either the “lights on” or “lights off” status. There must be an equal number of “lights on” and “lights off” rooms. If the Arena contains an odd number of rooms, a coin toss may be used to determine the status of the final room.
- Choose a room to be Player One’s starting room. This is your starting room. NOTE: Player One’s starting room must be the opposite status of Player Two’s starting room. (That is, if Player Two’s starting room has been assigned the “lights off” status, Player One’s room must be assigned the “lights on” status and vice versa.) Player One’s goal is set by the status of their starting room.
- Use the paper and writing implement to write down your wish or desire.
- Place the paper with your written wish or desire in Player One’s starting room.
- Exit Player One’s starting room.
- Perform the incantation ritual.
- Return to Player One’s starting room. You have 60 seconds. Go.
The Main Event:
- If The Prelude has been performed correctly, every light in the Arena will flicker once.
- If the lights do not flicker: The Prelude has failed. Do not proceed. You may perform The Prelude again as many times as necessary to achieve a flickering condition; however, it is recommended that you wait until the following evening before making each additional attempt. (NOTE: “The following evening” does not necessarily mean waiting a full 24 hours. See: Additional Notes.)
- If the lights flicker: The game has begun. You may proceed.
- Travel around the Arena as quickly as possible, turning the lights in each room either on or off as determined by the status of your starting room: That is, if Player One’s starting room was set to the “lights on” status during The Prelude, your goal is to switch all of the lights on. If Player One’s starting room was set to the “lights off” status during The Prelude, your goal is to switch all of the lights off.
- Player Two, meanwhile, will also travel through the Arena as quickly as possible, turning the lights in each room either on or off as determined the status of their own starting room. If the status of a room changes after you have either turned on or off the lights, that is indicative of Player Two’s presence. If Player Two changes the status of a room, you must change it back in order to achieve your goal.
- Continue in this manner until all the rooms in the Arena are either light or dark. It’s a race. Move quickly, but don’t hurt yourself; the game doesn’t stop for injury.
- When the lights flicker once, the game is over. Return to Player One’s starting room.
- If, upon returning to Player One’s room, you…
- Find that the piece of paper on which your wish or desire had been written has vanished: Congratulations — you have won. In the coming days, weeks, and years, be on the lookout for certain… opportunities which might present themselves to you. If you make the most of these opportunities, your wish or desire will one day be yours. Enjoy your success.
- Find that the piece of paper on which your wish or desire had been written is still present: I’m sorry — you have lost.
- Of course, being able to find the piece of paper on which your wish or desire had been written is still present assumes that you’re in any state to return to Player One’s starting room in the first place. If you’ve lost… you may not be.
A “room” may be defined as follows:
- An enclosed space within the Arena with at least four walls, a floor, a ceiling, a means of entering and exiting, and a light source.
Any space that satisfies all of these conditions is considered a room, regardless as to size or function of the space. (E.g. A walk-in closet with a light source is considered a room. A walk-in closet that has no light source is not.)
It is recommended that a chosen Arena contain no more than 12 rooms.
A “light source” may be defined as follows:
- Any electrically-operated lighting device which is able to be turned either on or off and which illuminates a room within the Arena.
Any device that satisfies these conditions is considered a light source, regardless as to size. (E.g. An overhead light, a floor lamp, or a night light are all considered light sources. A battery-powered flashlight or lantern is not.)
If a room contains multiple light sources, only one light source need be turned on in order for the room to be considered lit.
A “wish or desire” may be defined as follows:
- An attainable goal for which you long above all else.
The wish or desire may be material (money, an object, etc.) or intangible (love, knowledge, etc.); however, it cannot be impossible. For example, anything that might be considered a “superpower” is not possible and therefore not eligible for use in this game.
It is recommended that the game commence as close to midnight as possible. The difficulty of the game is directly related to the hour at which it is begun; beginning at or immediately following midnight is therefore more likely to result in a winning condition for Player One. The latest known starting time which resulted in a winning condition for Player One is 2:05am.
(This is why, if multiple attempts to perform The Prelude successfully must be made, it may not be necessary to wait a full 24 hours from the point of failure to try again: If, for example, The Prelude is found to have failed at 12:30am, it may be attempted again the following evening at 12am.)
Complete the game as quickly as possible. It gets more difficult the longer it goes on; a game that lasts more than 15 minutes is very likely to end in a losing condition for Player One. Ideally, Player One will achieve their goal of turning all the lights either on or off within the first five minutes of the game. The longest known playing time which resulted in a winning condition for Player One is 38 minutes.
It is not recommended that this game be played during severe weather events. Electrical failure due to power outage will result in an automatic losing condition.
You may not use any additional devices or items to aid you in completing the game. Doing so will result in an automatic losing condition. Don’t cheat. It’s not nice to cheat.
Concerning The Losing Condition:
It is not known precisely what happens to Player Ones who achieve a losing condition. Some have reportedly been found deceased after having suffered severe accidents, although it is unknown whether these accidents are related — either directly or indirectly — their participation in the game.
Many more, however, have simply disappeared. It has been theorized that these former Player Ones have become Player Twos, although this theory remains unproven.
It is not recommended that you play this game. The reward for success is valuable, but the cost of failure is great.
How much do you really want that thing you want?
Be honest with yourself.
Is it worth it?
[Photo via StockSnap/Pixabay]