In 2015, a phenomenon known as the “Charlie Charlie Challenge” took the internet by storm. It's since become one of the most easily identifiable paranormal ghost game around — sort of like the current generation's version of the time-honored classic, Bloody Mary — but it's worth noting that it isn't the only game of this sort floating around out there. There are loads of games like “Charlie Charlie” bopping around the internet; what's more, the rules for most of them are usually just a Google search away. Feel like tempting fate today? Maybe today's the day that you really, really want to creep yourself out? Read on.
I've mentioned before that I consider creepypasta to be the modern day equivalent of the urban legends so many of us grew up telling at sleepovers and around campfires. Games and rituals like "Charlie Charlie" are no different; indeed, these days, they're even classified as a particular subgenre of creepypasta: "Ritualpasta." What's notable about ritualpasta is that the stories often get their punch from making you, the reader, into the protagonist — the star of the tale.
This is probably why I spend so much of my free time reading and researching them, although I'll admit that I'm usually to wary to actually want to try playing them.
Do I believe any of these games actually work? To be honest, not really. I suspect that some of them — the ones that are closer to meditation than to the alleged summoning of a ghost or demon or whatever — might yield more tangible results; however, your mileage is likely to vary in each and every case. If you do give any of them a shot, though, I'd recommend taking them absolutely seriously: Don't cut corners, take common sense precautions, and don't treat them as a joke. Even if you don't really believe in them… well, better safe than sorry, right?
A Redditor going by the name FableForge posted the instructions — or “recipe,” as it later became known — for The Three Kings on the r/NoSleep subreddit during the summer of 2012. It became so popular that it later spawned a subreddit of its own devoted entirely to games and rituals of this sort. The setup involves shutting yourself in a room with two mirrors at 3:30 in the morning and… seeing what happens.
The mirrors should be set up on two chairs facing each other, while you yourself settle on a third chair placed between them. Your chair is your “throne,” making you the King; the mirrors are your Queen and your Fool, although you may know not which is which. It's also worth noting that, from the Queen and Fool's point of view, you're either their Queen or their Fool. The game is called The Three Kings, remember?
As for what the point of the ritual is? That's a little less clear. The idea is to access what FableForge calls “the Shadowside,” although why you would want to go there — or even just peek at it through a window — sort of depends on each individual. Personally, I think it functions kind of like hypnosis or meditation; you might learn something about yourself — something you may not have consciously thought before — while playing it. Just make sure that whatever you think you might learn during this game is really worth it. Some things, we're better off not knowing.
Tsuji-ura is said to have originated many, many years ago in Japan; however, there are similar games found in cultures all over the world. You might hear it called the Fortune Game, for example, or even Crossroads Divination — this last moniker, of course, referring to the location in which the game must take place: A crossroads. Crossroads, you see, have long been viewed not just as the space where two roads intersect, but also the space where two worlds intersect — our own world, and the world… beyond the veil, so to speak.
Tsuji-ura is a little less involved than some of the other games on this list, making it easier to play if you’re just dipping your toe into the ritualpasta waters. (It should be noted, though, that the stakes are still pretty high; they always are in these types of games.) All you have to do to play is find a comb and something to cover your face with, take them to a crossroad when it's dark out, strum the teeth of the comb a few times to make some noise, and chant “Tsuji-ura, Tsuji-ura, grant me a true response” three times. If a stranger approaches you, cover your face; then ask them to tell your fortune. If you’re lucky, they’ll accept — but don't push it if they refuse.
Fun fact: A “Tsuji-ura senbei” is a type of Japanese rice cracker that functions sort of like a fortune cookie. It's savory, rather than sweet, but the idea is quite similar.
This game also goes by several names, depending on who you talk to, how old they are, and where they grew up. The version known as The Doors of Your Mind seems unique to Reddit, where it appeared in 2012; however, some folks remembering playing it under the name Black Door, White Door in the mid-1990s, while others recollect a version called Red Door, Yellow Door. No matter which version you play, though, it’s relatively low risk compared to a lot of other games and rituals: It’s basically a form of meditation, with the goal being simply to explore the contents of your own head. Visualizing the interior of your mind as a long corridor with many doors and rooms shooting off of it allows you to take your time walking through everything, potentially helping you sort out problems or maybe just allowing you to learn something about yourself.
Be warned, though: There could be some unpleasant or downright nasty things lurking in the location you conjure up. It's not unheard of for threatening personages to appear and lock you in one of the rooms — and getting locked in can sometimes… complicate things. Also know that you don't have to open every door; if you get a bad feeling from one, you might want to leave it shut.
You’ll need a friend to help you play this one; they’ll guide you through the process, as well as help you come back to the physical world if you encounter something dangerous in the world inside your mind.
The object of The Dark Reflection Ritual is to boost your luck, although you might have to battle through a whole bunch of absolutely terrible luck in order to get there — and I'm talking some Final Destination-level stuff here.
You can perform this one either solo or as part of a group; to get it going, find a mirror, look your reflection in the eye for a few seconds while focusing on all your negative energy, breathe on the mirror til it fogs up, and then hold it to a burning flame until a black smudge appears on it. Lastly, smash the mirror — and get ready to be on your guard. Throughout the rest of the night, bad luck will apparently follow you, getting increasingly more dangerous as the hours go by.
If you survive until dawn, congratulations! It's said that your luck will magically become good, ensuring success in pretty much everything you do for an unspecified amount of time.
Is it worth it? I'm not sure. You'll have to find out for yourself — if you're feeling brave.
Another one from the r/ThreeKings subreddit, where it was originally published in 2012, The Shoebox Telephone involves constructing a sort of astral telephone out of a shoebox, a string, and a paper cup. If prepared correctly, this telephone will allow you to "make a call" to someone who might not be on our plane of existence anymore.
Like The Doors of Your Mind, The Shoebox Telephone is relatively low risk; however, be careful you don't dial a wrong number. It's not totally clear what happens if you do... but you probably don't really want to find out.
I will freely admit that I have no earthly idea why anyone would actually want to play The Midnight Game. It sounds (theoretically, at least) extremely dangerous, and “winning” it doesn't seem to bestow any benefits on you. Maybe it's for the thrill of the whole thing? Or something? Allegedly it was used as a punishment for those who dared to transgress the laws of society during ancient times, but I suspect that's just a fiction tacked onto the story to make it freakier. It does, however, make use of a trope that can be encountered in different forms all over the world: That of the boogeyman — the monster whose name is involved in order to keep us in line.
This particular game is an all-night event. After you summon the Midnight Man to your place of residence via the sort of blood magic it's not generally recommended that anyone do (ever), you spend the rest of the evening moving about your house and trying to avoid him. What happens if he catches you? Well, depending on who you ask, he'll either trap you inside a hallucination of your worst fear for a few hours, or he'll rip out your innards.
If you make it through the game unscathed, though, don't assume you're safe from the Midnight Man forever. He might still be there, lurking in the shadows, waiting — just waiting — for the chance to visit you again.
The prize for winning The Gambler's Game is the ability to win any gamble, no matter how slim the odds might be. But before you can seize that prize, you have to beat the Gambler at a different game first.
You get to choose the game for the challenge, which gives you something of an advantage over the Gambler right from the get-go — although for what it's worth, your opponent prefers Blackjack. If you choose his favorite game, maybe he'll go easy on you... but maybe he won't. Whatever game you play, though, just don't try to cheat. The Gambler doesn't take kindly to cheating.
The ritual might look kind of goofy to anyone who doesn't know what's going on — essentially, it will seem like you're playing a card game with yourself — but just because you can't see your opponent doesn't mean he's not there.
Also, the cost of losing is steep. Just... bear that in mind before you decide to play.
The Telephone Ritual, which hails from Japan, bears some similarities with The Shoebox Telephone; however, it uses both a mobile phone and a regular landline instead of a phone made out of a shoebox, and you don't get to pick who you call. It's also a heck of a lot more dangerous. Before you start, you'll have to make sure you're alone in the house; don't try to play with anyone else home. Also, make sure you're comfortable with hanging out in your bathroom and staring into the depths of your toilet for an extended amount of time. (Yes, really.)
When you're ready to play, first, turn off all the lights in your home and lay down a line of salt outside the bathroom door. (According to some magic practitioners, salt can be an effective tool for protecting yourself from negative energy.) Then grab your phone and a flashlight, lock yourself in the bathroom, and use your mobile phone to call your home number. Doing so might result in… well... something picking up the other end. If that happens, hang up immediately. If you see a change in the surface of the toilet bowl water or hear a noise from somewhere inside your house, hang up immediately.
Actually, you know what? Just don't try to make that call in the first place. It's probably safer for everyone.
Too freaked out to try one of these games on your own? The Answer Man requires 10 players, so maybe there's safety in numbers. Gather everyone together into a circle; then have all players take out their phones and call the person to their left, making sure you all hit “send” at the same time. Most of you will probably get a busy signal… but it's possible that one person might get through to the Answer Man.
Whoever gets through to the Answer Man can ask whatever questions they want of him — but know that for every question you ask, he'll get to ask one in return. His questions aren't always easy to answer, but you must answer them truthfully and accurately. If doesn't like your answer, you're going to have a bad time, so make sure you're fully prepared before playing.
You might want to use inexpensive burner or pay-as-you-go phones to play this one, by the way. If you manage to get in touch with the Answer Man, you'll need to destroy the phone you used to talk to him afterwards.
Otherwise he might be able to reach out to you whenever he wants.
I feel the same way about One-Person Hide and Seek as I do about The Midnight Game — namely, I cannot figure out why on earth you'd even play it. But again, I suspect a lot of it has to do with thrill-seeking, so if that's your thing, then go forth (carefully).
Known in Japan as Hitori Kakurenbo, this one first involves preparing a doll or stuffed animal to be your opponent. Once you've created your opponent and put a few precautions in place, it's the doll's turn to hide, while it's your turn to seek. After you find the doll, though, the roles are reversed — and you do not, under any circumstances, want to let the doll find you. If you successfully avoid it, you'll have to go find it again yourself to end the game — but be warned: You may not find it where you left it.
While we're at it, here's how a grown-ass woman uses "Charlie Charlie" to make all her decisions:
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