Previously: The Thumb Game.
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Every so often, I stumble upon a game on a site written in a language in which I’m not fluent — and although I’m generally fairly adept at working around linguistic limitations, I am, for whatever reason, unable to dig up much else about the game in question. Such was the case with the mirror ritual game I’ve taken to calling the Synchronization Game: It was published back in 2016 on two Indonesian sites I consult with some degree of frequency (and in a nearly identical form, to boot) — but other than those two sources, I’ve come up empty. It’s an interesting ritual all the same, though, so I’ve made an effort to untangle it a little here.
The goal is to take a picture of… something. Maybe something lurking in your space that you might not be able to see with the naked eye. Maybe something lurking within the depths of your mirror. Maybe something from another plane of existence. It’s not exactly clear what you might see — but you will see something. If you’ve done the whole thing correctly, of course.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
“The Synchronization Game” is an imprecise title. Neither of my main sources agree on precisely what the game is called; according to one, it’s the “Sync Mirror Game,” while the other refers to it as “Synchronizing Mirror.” The synchronization bit has to do with the key moment of the game, when the two players must each perform a particular task at exactly the same time — that is, they must sync up their actions for one highly specific moment in order for the game to work. Since that almost seems to be the defining feature for this game — which otherwise has a lot of the usual suspects (mirrors, cameras, light switches, etc.) — that’s what I’ve opted to go with in terms of its moniker.
I suspect, by the way, that this game originated not only at a different source than the two I’ve already pointed out, but that it originates in a different language as well. This suspicion has a lot to do with the nature of the two sites I found it on in Indonesian: Neither tends to publish games they’ve come up with on their own; their archives comprise almost exclusively Indonesian translations of games originally published elsewhere (frequently Reddit or the Creepypasta Wikia) in other languages (English, mainly, although occasionally Japanese or Korean). There are some exceptions; Lingsir Wengi, for example, is of course Indonesian in origin, meaning the version seen on one of these sites is, y’know, the original, rather than a translation. But by and large, the games featured on these two sites come from other places, which means that it’s not only possible, but likely that the Synchronization Game comes from elsewhere, too — something I find even more plausible in light of the fact that I haven’t found any Indonesian sources for this game beyond these two sites, either.
But again, that’s just a guess. I could very well be super, super off in my assessment, or I could have missed something somewhere in my research. (It happens sometimes, especially when you’re trying to dig up stuff in a language you’re not particularly familiar with.)
Does this ritual look familiar to you? If yes, I’d love to know more; feel free to leave whatever you’ve got in a comment, as always.
And, in the meantime… play at your own risk.
- One Principal.
- One Photographer.
- A windowless, medium-sized room with only one, easily reached and operated light source within it.
- A medium-sized mirror or looking glass. An inexpensive, free-standing mirror is highly recommended.
- A medium-sized drop cloth.
- A pillowcase or other cloth or paper sack, large enough for the mirror to fit inside.
- A hammer or other heavy object.
- A DSLR camera.
Making The Preparations:
- Begin at night.
- Gather together all participants and all requirements.
- Adjust the camera’s shutter speed. The shutter speed should be set to the fastest setting possible, while also ensuring that images shot on this setting are not underexposed, overexposed, dark, blurred, etc. Bear in mind that you will be shooting in low-light conditions. You may need to use a trial-and-error process to determine the appropriate shutter speed.
- Go to the room in which you have chosen to play. Set up the mirror, if necessary.
- Spread the drop cloth out and position it beneath the mirror.
- Position the pillowcase or sack such that it may quickly and easily be drawn or dropped over the mirror.
- Place the hammer within easy reach.
- Perform the following checks:
- Turn the game room’s lights on and off several times. Ensure that the bulb is functioning and that the switch is easy to reach and simple to operate.
- Position yourself before the mirror at a distance of about six inches (approximately 15 centimeters) from its surface; then reach out to the switch that operates the room’s lights. You should be able to reach and operate this switch without moving away from the mirror.
- Practice drawing or dropping the pillowcase or sack around the mirror. You should be able to enclose the mirror in the pillowcase or sack in a matter of seconds.
- Have the Photographer enter the room with the camera and find a spot for them to stand where they will, when looking through the camera’s viewfinder, have an unobstructed view of both the Principal and the mirror.
- If any of these checks fail, DO NOT PROCEED. Make any adjustments necessary until the checks are passed.
- When all checks have been satisfactorily passed, you may proceed.
- Turn on the lights in your chosen game room.
- Travel throughout the building or space in your room is located and turn off all other light sources. It is also recommended that you draw the curtains or otherwise cover up any and all windows.
- The only lit room should be your chosen game room. The rest of the space should be dark.
- Return to your game room, but do not enter it just yet.
- Position the Photographer just outside the door of the game room, camera in hand.
- Take a deep breath.
- When you are ready, enter the game room.
Taking The Photograph:
- Position yourself before the mirror, about six inches (approximately 15 centimetres) away from it.
- Look at your reflection in the mirror. Meet your own gaze, and hold it.
- If you feel unsettled, you may step back an additional six inches, putting one foot (approximately 30 centimetres) of space between yourself and the mirror. Do not look away from your reflection as you do so. Continue gazing at your own reflection at this distance until you feel less unsettled. Then, step forward again and return to your original position, six inches away from the mirror.
- Keep looking at the mirror.
- Keep your eyes on your reflection.
- Now, slowly, reach out your hand until you find the light switch. Do not look away from the mirror.
- Turn the lights off. Do not look away from the mirror.
- At this point, the Photographer should raise the camera to their face and enter the room. They should NOT view the room or the mirror directly or with the unaided eye; they should ONLY look at the room and mirror through the camera’s viewfinder.
- Principal: Do not look away from the mirror.
- Photographer: Take up the previously agreed-upon position — the one you located during the checks in Making The Preparations, Step 8. You should have an unobstructed view, through the camera’s viewfinder, of both the Principal and the mirror. Do you? Good. Remember: Do NOT view the room or the mirror directly. Look ONLY through the camera’s viewfinder.
- Principal: Once the Photographer is in position, reach your hand back out and find the light switch again. However, do NOT flip the switch yet. Ask the Photographer if they are ready.
- Photographer: Are you ready? Answer honestly.
- Principal: If the Photographer is NOT ready, DO NOT PROCEED. Allow the Photographer to make any adjustments necessary until they feel ready.
- Photographer: Inform the Principal when you are ready.
- You may proceed.
- Principal: On the count of three, you will flip the switch, turn the lights back on, and — this is important — look away from the mirror.
- Photographer: At the moment the switch is flipped and lights come back on, you will take a photograph of the Principal and the mirror.
- This is the moment of synchronization.
- Do not miss it.
Examining The Evidence:
- Now: Move quickly. As soon as the photograph has been taken:
- Principal: Drop or draw up the pillowcase or sack over the mirror.
- Photographer: Once the mirror has been covered, pick up the hammer and smash it completely.
- Once the lights have been turned on, do NOT look directly at the mirror at ANY POINT — EITHER of you.
- As soon as the mirror has been destroyed, vacate the room IMMEDIATELY. Leave the mirror where it is.
- Travel once more through the building or space in which your game room is located and turn on every light you can find.
- Do it as quickly as possible.
- Run, if you must.
- Do not linger in the darkness.
- Once all of the lights are on, blazing bright, then — and only then — may you examine the photograph that should now be stored on your camera.
- Look closely.
- What do you see?
Clearing the space of other people and pets not participating in the game before beginning is not required. It is, however, recommended, both for their own safety and to minimize distractions or disturbances during gameplay.
The drop cloth and pillowcase or sack are for your own safety. You will, after all, be smashing a mirror to pieces; shattered glass is a hazard all its own. Take common sense precautions before beginning in order to minimize risk of injury.
Although it is possible this game may be adapted for use with a smartphone equipped with a camera instead of a DSLR camera, it is NOT recommended that you make this substitution. Results may be unpredictably; additionally, the fact that smartphones with cameras do not have viewfinders may put the Photographer at unnecessary risk.
Concerning The Mirror:
- Do NOT let the Photographer look directly at the mirror with an unaided eye.
- Do NOT look directly at the mirror once the lights have been turned back on.
- Do NOT look directly at the mirror immediately before, during or after its destruction.
Additionally, do NOT fail to take the photograph of the Principal and the mirror at the precise moment the lights turn back on.
And finally: Do NOT re-enter the game room, or turn off its lights, until the sun has risen. Once it is fully light out, you may return to the room and collect whatever remains of the mirror. Do not remove these fragments from the pillowcase or sack; rather, lay the sack full of broken glass in the center of the drop cloth and fold the drop cloth carefully around it, forming a tight, secure bundle. Remove the bundle from the room and dispose of it somewhere far, far away.
Bury it, if you can.
You wouldn’t want whatever you found in the mirror making its way out in the world, now, would you?
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[Photo via Marvinton/Pixabay, remixed by Lucia Peters.]