Many of us grew up shutting ourselves in the bathroom with the lights off during sleepovers and chanting the name “Bloody Mary” into the mirror 13 times — but there’s a whole host of creepy mirror games out there that our pre-adolescent selves never even dreamed might exist. To be fair, many of them are recent inventions, stories spun in order to shock and delight in the same way the urban legends we told each other as children were; in that sense, they’re not steeped in lore or grounded in reality. But they are a heck of a lot of fun.
Mirrors have long been associated with the otherworldly in superstition, folklore, and literature. We’re fascinated by our reflections, and whether or not an exterior image might accurately show what a person is like inside — or not. We wonder if mirrors might actually be more like windows, or perhaps even doors, and if so, what they might let in (or out) — and whether we should cover them up in order to keep them closed. We worry that, if we break a mirror, we’ll be cursed with seven years of bad luck.
And we like to play games with them, largely, I think, because we have a deep-seated psychological need to tempt fate.
Do I believe that any of these games work? Not really. There are some exceptions, of course — some of them are almost more like meditation rituals, while others are likely the results of well-documented optical illusions and tricks of perception like the Caputo Effect — but I don’t really believe that it’s possible to summon a demon, ghost, or spirit into the physical world through a mirror. But while we’re talking about them here, I’ll suspend my disbelief; it’s more fun that way. I suggest you do, as well — because otherwise, what’s the point?
So here. Let’s take a look at 12 creepy mirror games to which the internet has given life in recent years. What’s the worst that could happen?
I would argue that these days, Three Kings is the mirror game to end all mirror games; ever since its appearance on the r/NoSleep subreddit four years ago and the subsequent creation of r/ThreeKings, mirror games have been de rigueur for digital natives in a way that I don’t think they really were previously. I mean, sure, we’d all heard of Bloody Mary and what have you; this one, though? This one is… special. It’s more involved, for one thing; also, the reason I like it is that it doesn’t say specifically that its goal is to summon any spirits or demons (because as much as I might want to believe in ghosts and other worldly beings, I don’t — I’ve just never experienced enough proof from a first hand perspective).
Instead, it’s probably best described as a meditative ritual. It involves setting up a couple of chairs and two mirrors in a particular way and taking steps to put yourself in the right frame of mind for the experience. One of the chairs is your “throne,” with the mirrors occupying the other chairs acting as your “queen” and your “fool”; the idea is that if you have questions going into the whole thing, you’ll walk out with answers.
A few warnings, though: One, just because it doesn’t claim to summon an actual spirit doesn’t mean nothing gets summoned; two, from your perspective, you’re the king, but your queen and your fool have their own perspectives, too, and they might not think of themselves or you the way you yourself do (that’s why the name of the game is Three Kings); and three, even if all you’re doing is walking around in your own mind, that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Some people have some things lurking up there that you don’t really want getting out.
2. Lady Spades
Lady Spades is similar to Bloody Mary in that the point is to summon an incredibly angry woman in the mirror of your choice. Unlike Bloody Mary, though, successfully summoning Lady Spades gives you the opportunity to ask for a wish. She might not necessarily grant it… but it’s nice to know that there’s a reward here, if that’s your thing. Players aren’t just taking an enormous risk for the sake of… taking an enormous risk.
Because the stakes are high in this game. Make no mistake about that. If any of a number of red flags appear while you’re playing it, or if you’re not careful, or if you’re downright rude, she, uh… might not leave after you’re done. Or — worse — she might find her way out of the mirror. And you don’t want that happening. Ever.
In many ways, For the Acquisition of Knowledge from the Dream World reminds me of the Shoebox Telephone, except that you’re not contacting someone else — you’re contacting yourself. The good news is that it’s a low stakes game. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an easy one — but as Redditor fraterviciate put it when they posted it to r/ThreeKings, this one has “a much safer outcome,” because in it, you’re basically going on a date with yourself. Isn’t that nice?
“The purpose of this ‘date’ is to gain some information about yourself,” fraterviciate wrote. “Would you like to know why you do something in a particular manner or why you made a certain decision? Do you have a habit you can’t explain the origin of? Maybe you’d rather find out about a confusing feeling you sometimes get or take a more psychonautic approach.” The idea is for you to lower the barriers your waking mind might come up against and see if you can figure out the answer to your question while you’re in something of a dream state.
The game involves making a specific kind of tea (note that I can’t speak to whether or not all the ingredients are things you should actually ingest, so proceed with caution and do your research first), toasting yourself, and asking your question of yourself. Then, with the help of a little automatic writing, you should have your answer. Note that you’ll need to plan ahead to do this one; making the tea is easy, but if you want to get fancy and make it an infusion instead, you’ll need about a month for it to brew. (Just pretend you’re making Polyjuice Potion.)
Want to ensure that you’ll have plenty of good luck for the foreseeable future? That’s what the Dark Reflection Ritual is for. Since the reward is luck-based, perhaps it’s unsurprising that the game itself involves mirrors; however, instead of breaking a mirror meaning that you’ll have seven years’ bad luck, this one seems to kind of… focus all the bad luck into the part of the mirror that you break. If you make it through the challenge that follows, you’ll purportedly experience excellent fortune in everything that you do.
Interestingly, it’s suggested that you play the Dark Reflection Ritual with a group of people, rather than singly or alone. I say “interestingly” because typically, these kinds of games specify only one player, or very occasionally two; however, a group is suggested for this one because it helps make the challenge a little easier. Worth noting, though, is that although the challenge will be easier the more players you have, the payoff will also be lesser. Choose your companions wisely.
I wouldn’t attempt the Mirror Box unless you’re skilled in construction, because it requires you to actually build the mirror box before you play. And we’re not talking just a tiny little box made from hand mirrors hot glued together; we’re talking a box big enough for a human, with the sides welded together and requiring a ladder to get inside. It’s not for the faint of heart, and just building the box could end up as a dangerous disaster for anyone who doesn’t have the right skill set to do it.
As for what happens once you’ve built the box and climbed inside? Well… no one really knows except for the people who have already done it — and their experience will likely have been totally different from what yours will be. I suspect that some sort of Gathering of Knowledge happens, but that may not quite be it, depending.
Also, it’s apparently not a good idea to trust what players say after they emerge from the box. They may not be entirely reliable.
There’s nothing to gain from this one — sometimes, the “prize” of winning a game is just the fact that you’ve been there, done that, and got the T-shirt along with some bragging rights — and I’ll warn you that clicking through the link will bring you to a wall of text. In summary, though, the instructions go a little something like this:
- Set up two large mirrors facing each other, approximately one meter apart.
- Stand between the mirrors. Note the time at which you begin, and make sure there’s no noise.
- Look at your reflection in the mirror, and count the “frames” you can see over your shoulder’s reflections — you know, the mirrors upon mirrors upon mirrors kind of effect that happens whenever you look at a mirror through another mirror. These “frames,” all stacked up, are the tunnel.
- If at any point your reflection looks uneasy, step out from the between the mirrors, exit the room, and lock the door behind you.
- If you’re still curious tomorrow, you can repeat the process, although make sure you repeat it exactly — same time, same place, same movements.
- Just… keep an eye on your reflection. It might be trying to tell you something, and missing it would be… unwise.
While I was already familiar with a lot of the games on this list when I started researching this post (remember that whole thing where I have some really weird hobbies?), An Alternate Soul was new to me. I don’t know much about where it comes from; it was apparently first uploaded to the Creepypasta Wikia in February of 2011 by a user called Paninis Cupcake, but other than that, I wasn’t able to find out anything about it. As such, I assume the Creepypasta Wikia version is the original one.
In any event, the goal of the game is to “awaken” your “alternate soul,” which you can allegedly see if you summon it in a mirror. At its base, the game sounds to me like an example of the Caputo Effect in action — that trick of perception I mentioned earlier, which occurs when you stare into a mirror for an extended period of time. Doing so makes your brain start perceiving your own reflection in some really weird ways, possibly explaining why so many mirror games result in a “monster” appearing in the mirror.
Then again, the Caputo Effect doesn’t explain why so many of the games also warn us against letting whatever we see in the mirror out.
Just, y’know… food for thought.
The Devil Game is a mirror game. It’s also an information game. And it’s also a lying game. Although a lot of these kinds of games are almost over by the time you summon the titular being in the mirror, that’s not the case here; the summoning is just the beginning. That’s when the real game begins, a back-and-forth of questions and answers where the only right answers are true ones, but where you might not know what’s true and what’s a lie. The point is to put yourself in a position where you can learn valuable information from the fella in the mirror — although that’s certainly easier said than done.
Also, be polite. The Devil doesn’t take kindly to rudeness.
Another variation on Bloody Mary, Peek-A-Boo sets itself apart by the fact that you don’t spend the majority of the game staring directly into a mirror; instead, you close your eyes while you’re facing the mirror and keep them closed for the duration of the game. After you’ve shut your peepers — making sure that you’re close enough for your face to be “almost touching” the mirror — you “let your mind do the rest.” You’ll see something, even if you’re not actually looking at anything other than the insides of your eyelids.
A word of caution, though: If you don’t close the ritual properly by one of the three approved methods, or you open your eyes too soon, you might catch a glimpse of whatever you thought you were seeing in your minds’ eye in the mirror itself. If this happens, get rid of the mirror immediately.
You don’t want to leave that kind of window open.
Council of Mirrors is a decision-making method; it involves setting up a huge number of mirrors (30, 70, or 90, according to the recipe) on the walls of a single room, repeating the words “You are as I am. As I am, answer me truly” to each one, and then asking a question you want answered. According to the Redditor who posted the recipe, each of your reflections in each of the mirrors represents a different part of your mind — which is why figuring out the actual answer to your question can be so tricky: After you ask your query, they all start yelling at you at once. Also, they will be yelling at you backwards, because they’re your reflections, so of course they will.
Redditor anacforanic said they got around the issue by recording the shouting, then playing it backwards later on and deciphering the many messages from the recording… but honestly, there are probably easier ways to get through the decision-making process. Just sayin’.
If you’re familiar with the game known as One Man Hide and Seek, the Living Doll Game might ring a few bells for you… except that it’s seemingly a heck of a lot more dangerous. And given that One Man Hide and Seek isn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows in the first place, that’s really saying something.
As described by Saya In Underworld, the set-up for the Living Doll Game sounds similar to that of Tunnels; the difference is that instead of putting yourself between the two mirrors, you’re putting a doll and a candlestick there. After you’ve performed the opening of the game, it’s time to go and hide — and whatever you do, don’t let the doll find you.
You heard me.
You don’t want to know what happens if it finds you.
Waiting for Godot is kind of like a less dangerous version of Lady Spades or Bloody Mary: By following the recipe for the game, you’ll some the spectral visage of some dude in mirror. Unlike Bloody Mary, though — or Lady Spades, for that matter — there’s no danger of Godot getting out of the mirror once you’ve summoned him; he just kind of… hangs around for a bit.
Admittedly I’m not sure what the connection actually is between this game and the Samuel Beckett play of the same name; in all honesty, giving the game that particular title kind of implies that it might not be worth playing. After all, who wants to wait around all day for a guy who never shows up?