This viral sport in China reinvents hide-and-seek for the digital age

This viral sport in China reinvents hide-and-seek for the digital age

The “cat-and-mouse sport,” because it’s normally referred to regionally, has gone viral in China this 12 months, drawing hundreds of individuals throughout the nation to occasions each week. It’s a enjoyable mixture of a childhood sport, in-person networking, the newest location-sharing know-how, and meme-worthy expertise. When the sport first emerged in February, movies of hide-and-seek gamers who went wild—climbing up timber, hiding within the sewers—bought thousands and thousands of views on social media.

Each contest convenes dozens of individuals in a predetermined space, usually a big metropolis park. All of them then be part of a bunch on Amap, a Chinese Google Maps different, and share their stay location. Among the members, 90% are designated as “mice” and have 5 minutes to run and conceal. Then the remainder, who’re “cats,” will exit and search out every mouse with the assistance of the placement sharing, in addition to a neon wristband that visually separates them from nonparticipants. Once caught, the mice change groups and be part of the cats, so the sport will get tougher and tougher for the remaining mice.


During a brief journey to Hong Kong final month, I joined two cat-and-mouse video games within the metropolis. Both of them had about 40 members and lasted one hour. The first park was bigger and had fewer individuals, which means it was prime for operating and chasing; the second was crowded and smaller, which made it excellent for attempting to mix in with passersby.

Being an indoor individual, I’m not at all times a fan of group bodily actions, however the two experiences went far past my expectations. The addition of location sharing has turned the youngsters’ sport right into a extra interactive model of Pokémon Go. Trying to stay hidden in the identical spot all through the sport was not attainable, for the reason that cats might at all times see the place I used to be; I wanted to get extra artistic in crafting an escape plan. I shortly discovered that deception—hiding my glowing bracelet, pretending to be an harmless jogger, and avoiding checking my telephone too usually—was additionally important to being mouse. 

Just watching everybody’s areas within the app was an intense expertise. Dozens of little avatars have been floating round within the park without delay, with cats step by step outnumbering mice as the sport progressed. Delays and bugs have been loads, however that added to the enjoyable and issue of the sport. I might really feel protected at one second, seeing there have been no cats round, and panic seconds later when a cat all of the sudden moved tons of of toes towards me, seemingly as a result of its location sharing had lagged. 

As a first-timer, I did okay. For my first sport, I survived as a mouse till the previous couple of minutes, when principally everybody else had transformed to the cat facet. For my second outing, I transformed mid-game and caught two mice myself.

I’ll readily admit some individuals have been a lot better than I used to be. Hong Shizhe, a 19-year-old school pupil, was topped the “cat king” of the second sport, having caught 11 mice by the top. “I like that you could each train and have enjoyable on this exercise,” Hong says. He first discovered in regards to the sport by movies individuals shared on Chinese social media, and he has been to a number of video games in Hong Kong and mainland China since. He informed me the biggest one had greater than 140 members. Once, he even took his canine to the park with him and nonetheless gained the sport. 

His secret for fulfillment? A number of lies and politics: “You could make a take care of the mice and have them assist you to discover different little mice. You can even faux to be a mouse and strike up a chat with them.”



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