Family | Self | Creativity

Childhood Games Transcend And Unite Us All

The importance of lore building for fostering connections and developing our minds.

Sean Kernan
5 min readDec 2, 2023

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Pexels Images via Monstera Production

Brian and I stood outside the bathroom door, urging the other to go in and “Do it.” It was 11 PM and we weren’t supposed to be awake. We were only nine years old, and playing the old game, Bloody Mary. It was played when you stood in the bathroom, turned off the lights and lit a candle. Then, you said “Bloody Mary” three times and waited for her to appear in the mirror.

She was allegedly a demon with a melted face. Both of us were too afraid but not willing to admit it. “No you do it. It was my idea first!” I said, while smiling to hide my terror.

“Yes but you look the most afraid,” Brian said, also smiling, and definitely afraid. We couldn’t even agree to do it together.

Though I wasn’t sure ghosts were a thing, there was enough of a plausibility that made Bloody Mary’s arrival feel real and that bathroom highly unappealing. Games like these, that might seem so trivial, are a key cultural aspect of growing up and developing. And they even bind us across generations.

Childhood lore has varying levels of virality, spreading across cultures by a number of factors, including the catchiness of the game, the contextual importance of its delivery, and how a child’s fears and worldview relate to it. Even the games we develop with toys, play a key role in a game’s continuation to subsequent generations:

Some old lego-spinoff toys I was working with.

These games still evolve. For example, one of the oldest childhood games, tag, is traced to the 4th century Greece, and has taken on several forms. More recently, and to parents’ great concern, coronavirus tag became popular after the onset of the pandemic.

The game, as it implies, means that those who are tagged, catch the virus. It was often used to play out post-apocalyptic scenarios together. These games are the language of childhood, and how kids learn to process the world, and the many anxieties it induces. Of coronavirus tag…

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Sean Kernan

Former financial analyst turned writer. Always on the hunt for a good story. That guy from Quora. Writing out of Tampa, Florida.