If ‘Squid Game’ Included These Classic Aussie Games, I’d Be A Far Richer Man

We have all basically spent the past few days watching life-or-death games of Red Light, Green Light and Tug-O-War thanks to Netflix’s new thriller ‘Squid Game’, but here’s some Australian childhood games that I reckon I would’ve crushed.

If you’re like me or any of the other millions of people that have succumbed to the allure of Netflix’s new Korean series Squid Game. The premise – I’m sure most of you are aware – is that 456 people in irreparable debt sign up to play a series of games with the chance to take home 45.6 billion KRW (around $53 million AUD). If they make it through all six games, the money’s theirs. If they don’t, they’ll meet their disturbingly bloody end.

I will give you zero spoilers in case you’re one of the three people left on earth that have yet to watch the show since it dropped last week. Instead, I’m just going to pitch a few classic Australian childhood or primary school lunch-time games that would slot right into the show’s truly fucked concept.

Heads Down, Thumbs Up

Otherwise known as one of two instances where I was silent in primary school, ‘Heads Down, Thumbs Up’ would fit in nicely on that god forsaken island. It would probably work best as a later round game with less players, but also would be an easy way to eliminate players in one big swoop – something the disturbed people running the shop seem to enjoy.

All the guards would have to do is participate a little bit – those creepy bastards and almost certain Halloween 2021 fodder would be the choosers, with the players sitting with their heads down and their thumbs up (in case that wasn’t clear). If one of the chosen correctly guesses who picked them, they’re safe. If one of the chosen incorrectly guesses, their head will fall even further down. It basically writes itself.

Silent Ball

Otherwise known as the second instance where I was silent in primary school. This game served two purposes – excited kids and gave teachers some fucking peace and quiet. You throw a ball around the room without speaking, and following intermittent instructions introduced to make the game more difficult as it goes on.

In the Squid Game universe, it would follow exactly the same rule except there would be an element of danger. Much like the real show’s versions of tug-o-war or hopscotch, the game should be played at an obscene height on individual platforms. When a player breaks a rule or drops the ball, the platform drops as well. Pop a time limit on for this one – and all who are still in the game when the clock hits zero get to live another day.

What’s The Time, Mr. Wolf?

Who made up this game and what sort of psychedelics were they taking?

Anyway, this long forgotten ditty is meant to help children learn to count, and it would serve effectively the same purpose in Squid Game – except it’ll have someone counting a whole lot of money. Bring that creepy fkn doll back, and she can yell out various times – “3 o’clock, 7 o’clock, 9 o’clock” etc. The players then take that many steps – as wide or as short as they like.

This is another particularly brutal game because there would be multiple ways to lose, but as a reprieve, multiple ways to win. You lose the game by taking more steps than you were supposed to – one of those phantom gunshots from Ep 1 should do it. You also lose the game if you don’t make it back to the start after the doll yells “dinner time!”

Just for fun, unleash real, ravenous wolves upon each “dinner time” call.

You win if you pass the doll before she screams “dinner time!” – akin to Red Light, Green Light – and you win if you manage to repeatedly back to the start before the timer hits zero. This idea probably needs workshopping, but given the violent nature of its title, it would be a perfect fit.


Let me be clear. This is straight up, no bullshit handball. No rolls. No ‘cherries’. No grabbing. None of that.

I want to see up-and-down handball. This would be a middle round game, meant to systematically wipe an equal amount of people out a la Marbles. Players will form teams of four (six? eight?) and each stand in their own square. Last one standing in each team gets to progress. Simple.

I would particularly excel here because every game of handball I’ve ever played was a matter of life or death for me. You can play for fun, but you know what else is fun? Winning.


A children’s game that had the potential to get so violent that it was BANNED in some schools for a good chunk of the 20th century? Sounds like a game made for this show.

This would be the ultimate final game, and could seriously mindfuck the select few players that would remain. Have some of the apparently endless supply of guards stand in the middle, but instead of their usual geometric-inspired masks, have them wear masks resembling some fallen players. Serve as some twisted, evil reminder of those who fell trying to win the prize money – some of which the remaining players themselves might have killed.

No weapons of any kind. Last one standing wins. Easy peasy*.

*If you can survive the probably unfixable trauma that you endured being involved in such a sadistic and callous process.


This is an opinion piece written by Jackson Langford, senior music and culture writer at MTV Australia. Hot takes at @jacksonlangford and hotter pics at @jacksonlangford.

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