Grab-bag of Tag Part Two: Variations

Yesterday I discussed the animalistic appeal of Tag, but dismissed it as an unbalanced game in its most pure form. So how can Tag be improved as a game, while still maintaining the simple thrills of flight and pursuit?

How about Blob Tag? When a player is tagged, instead of it-hood transferring to them, they link arms with their tagger, and continue chasing free players as a single entity. Every time a player is tagged, they join with the ‘blob’, until there is a massive wall of globular flesh roaming the field for the final survivors. Now rather than a vague misanthrope, being it has its own aspect of group identity.

We are the Blob. You will be assimilated

We are the Blob. You will be assimilated

Blob Tag (also known as Amoebae Tag)  provides rising action, a climax and a conclusion to the game. It doesn’t single out any winners or losers either, but becomes almost a simulation. A demonstration of how a single virus or idea can spread, perhaps.

There is also an added element of imagination, as some meaning and consequence of ‘tagging’ is inherently given. The game takes on a horror movie atmosphere, and players can imagine the panic-stricken nation, the sirens and fires, and the hapless civilians being sucked into goo left and right — forced to meld minds with their nebulous conquerors.

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I would not advise playing Blob Tag with actual Gelatinous Cubes, however.

Or take the game of Freeze Tag. In this variant whoever is ‘it’ remains so for the entire game, which makes it seem more like a privilege than a point of shame. It’s a good idea to pick someone at least fairly fleet of foot, if not the fastest player to be it, otherwise the game may never end.

In this aptly titled game when someone is tagged they must freeze in their tracks and hold their arms straight out in a cross. They remain frozen unless another unfrozen player can run under one of their outstretched arms (though some rules say you can just tag them). If whoever is it can manage to freeze everyone, the game is over.

And humanity is doomed.

And humanity is doomed.

Freeze Tag adds a game-end scenario and all the excitement that comes with nearing it. But, unlike Blob Tag, it provides players a way to undo the damage of Mr. Freeze-it. And while this may lengthen the game indefinitely, it also adds the drama of near-misses and epic comebacks.

Instead of the anarchy of every-man-for-himself in the other versions of tag, Freeze Tag allows players to help each other. Players will find that thawing unfortunates will keep the heat (or in this case, cold) off of themselves. This way, teamwork becomes inherent, and friendship, rather than teasing, is encouraged.

You know what they say about all work and no play.

“Won’t somebody  unfreeze me here? All wait and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

Other fun variants include Reverse Tag — in which whoever is it must run from the group, and whoever catches them becomes the new it — and Pair Tag — where players run in pairs with linked arms, and whoever is it tries to link arms with players to ‘bump out’ their partner (who then becomes it).

Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about one specific variant of Tag, and what it represents. Return then for Grab-bag of Tag Part Three: TV Tag.

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