Is Squid Game A Real Game?

squid game

Squid Game, Netflix’s mega-popular South Korean survival drama, is absolutely slaughtering the competition right now. It’s currently the most-watched show in the world and is already primed to become the streaming service’s most popular show of all time. With echoes of Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, it follows a group of 456 debt-ridden people who compete in a series of children’s games in an attempt to win an enormous cash prize⏤45.6 billion South Korean won, or $38.7 million. Losing a challenge has deadly consequences, as does quitting, which means that there’s really only one option if you don’t want to die a horribly gruesome death.

Fans who have already binged the series have called it shocking, horrifying, jaw-dropping, and even the most disturbing show they’ve ever seen. That’s quite a reaction for a drama that only premiered on September 17th. Squid Game‘s instant success has already led Netflix to green-light a second season as well as potential spinoffs, which makes sense given that it has a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Featuring English dubbing and nine episodes of heart-pounding suspense, Squid Game is on its way to outranking other Netflix hits like Bridgerton, Stranger Things, and The Queen’s Gambit. A South Korean internet service provider is even suing Netflix due to the sudden surge in network traffic.

Clearly the time to watch this show is now. The question is, how worried should we be that something like this could actually happen in real life?

Is Squid Game a real game?

Squid Game writer and director Hwang Dong-hyuk has confirmed that the title game is, in fact, a real one from his childhood that Korean children played often in the ’70s and ’80s. While it did not include hundreds of players, a violent mask-wearing staff, or deadly consequences, it did involve two teams facing off in a version of tag atop a squid-shaped court (usually drawn in the dirt). With one team on offense and the other on defense, the goal is for the offense to tap the squid’s head with their foot before the defense⏤who must stay within the squid-shaped boundary lines⏤tags them.

Dong-hyuk clearly took his interpretation of the popular game a step further by incorporating gasp-worthy violence, high stakes, and a life-altering prize. The irony of adults playing kids’ games certainly makes for compelling on-screen drama, especially since many of the games-within-the-game that the contestants play⏤Red Light, Green Light, tug of war, marble and candy challenges⏤are recognizable to audiences all over the world, not to mention played with wildly lower stakes by children in real life. This is exactly what makes Squid Game a horrifying sight to behold, as hundreds of desperate adults try to win these otherwise silly games only to witness what happens to the players who lose and continuing to play anyway.

Though the show has been called out for botching Korean translations, it’s clearly one worth watching in any language, even if it does run the risk of scarring you emotionally for the rest of your days (or at least until the second season drops, traumatizing us all over again). Starring Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Jung Ho-yeon, and Wi Ha-jun, Squid Game is available to stream on Netflix and is guaranteed to give all of your favorite playground memories a serious run for their money.