Squid Game is a 2021 South Korean Netflix series anchored upon some childhood games in South Korea. However, those games had become deadly, so in a series of six (or seven) articles, we will explain how the games shown in the series were played. And for the fun of it, we will also present some tips on how to play the game optimally to survive. For this article, we will talk about the first game, dubbed Red Light, Green Light in English.
But before that, let’s recap what Squid Game is. The series followed the story of some people struggling financially who only had to join these deadly games as their only hope of making their lives better. The games were essentially survival games. The last person standing would win the grand prize of 45.6 billion South Korean won.
We made a few conversions to understand how large that amount of money is. As of the time of writing, that amount of money is equivalent to 36.5 million USD, 34 million euros, 30.1 million British pounds, or, just because we had a North Korean character in the show, 32.8 billion North Korean won.
With that in the way, let’s talk about the first game!
How to Play
The game is called 무궁화 꽃이 피었습니다 (mugunghwa kkoch-i pieossseubnida) in Korean, which translates to “The hibiscus flower has bloomed.” The game has been translated as “Red Light, Green Light” in English as inspired by traffic lights, which the game had the same mechanic.
In the game, there was a doll in the middle of the field whose body faced a tree. At first, the doll, her head, and body faced the tree, but she would only “rotate” her head to face the players.
To play the game, the announced rules were as follows. The doll, Yeong-hui, would turn her back to the players. She will place her arm on her forehead while facing back, mimicking the posture of someone “it” in a game of tag.
She would then chant, “mugunghwa kkoch-i pieossseubnida,” while she was chanting, all players were allowed to traverse the wide field. After the chant, she would rotate his head back to the public and lower her arm. If the doll detected any movement, the player moving would be eliminated, not only from the game “but also from life.” The doll would turn her head back again, and the cycle repeated.
Everyone who crossed the pink line at the end of the field without being “eliminated” wins.
The English translation was inspired by traffic lights in a way that there were moments when one was not allowed to move, and there were moments when one was not allowed to move. Like in the movie, some would attempt to “beat the red light.” However, unlike in the movie, you wouldn’t get “eliminated” when you move during the “red light,” the worse you could get is probably some fines.
How to Win
The game had a time limit of five minutes. Young-hui completes chanting her line in five seconds. Optimally, the doll would chant the line for a maximum of 60 times.
However, she would take some time to assess the players for movement. The more players were moving, the more she would take to “eliminate” them, which burns time off for the dedicated players. So, she would not be able to sign for a total of 60 cycles, as seconds were spent during her body movements and removing players from the game.
So how would you do this? First off, you need to manage your speed and your balance. One player tried running too fast but could not stop his momentum in time, so he was caught trying to balance and was removed.
Let’s define “speed” first. It is defined as the distance covered in a certain amount of time. Now to move “faster” (i.e., “more speed”), one needs to cover more distance in the same amount of time or cover the same distance in less time.
With that physics concept in mind, the ideal way of playing it is by making large and heavy steps. Large steps would make you “cover more distance in the same amount of time” (or even effort), while making your steps as heavy as possible could make you “anchored” to the ground, so you won’t lose balance.