Hike and Seek has quickly become one of my favorite games for kids. I’ll be honest though… before I had kids, I didn’t really get the appeal.
I was totally baffled as to why all kids seemed to love it so much. But as my kids have grown and I’ve played dozens (maybe hundreds) of Hide and Seek games with them, and I’ve begun to see the appeal and the benefits of this fun activity.
Also, as my kids have gotten older, the game has evolved and they have become experts on the different styles of gameplay, which is why I decide to put together the ultimate guide to the Hide and Seek game.
The Benefits of Hide & Seek
As a jumping-off point, Hide and Seek has loads of benefits for kids (and adults!). If you’re a Hide and Seek skeptic like I used to be, this is a great place to start to begin to win you over.
Hide and Seek has all the elements of gameplay that produce the most positive health impacts for kids:
- You can encourage them to run and hide which is great for their physical health.
- They have to get creative after a few rounds to find new and fun hiding places, which stimulates them mentally.
- They may need to squeeze into a tight spot or if appropriate, climb up a tree, which is great for coordination, flexibility and gross motor skills.
- Finally, the game is highly social and will challenge them in terms of micro-losses which is great for emotional and social skill development.
We want our kids to handle loss well and more importantly, to learn from it. Hide and Seek is a great game to start to develop those skills in a fun and challenging environment.
A game like Hide and Seek can also build confidence in kids in many different ways – for some kids, it may be about hiding alone, for others it may be about choosing a hiding spot and risk being found, and for others, being the seeker may be the daunting task.
Finally, Hide and Seek is fun, which means our kids release happy hormones such as serotonin which is shown to be beneficial for all facets of life, from sleep to learning and regulating mood and behavior.
How to Play – Basic Hide & Seek Game Rules
To play Hide and Seek, one person needs to be designated as the seeker. They close their eyes and count (slowly!) to twenty (or more if desired) out loud.
While they’re counting, the rest of the players scatter and find hiding spots. Once the seeker has finished counting, they can go and look for the other players.
The first person to be found is the seeker in the next round and the last person is the winner of the round. You can play a number of rounds and the player who wins the most (by being found the least) is declared the ultimate Hide and Seek winner.
If you’re brave, you can change up your hiding spot while the seeker is looking for you making for a dynamic round!
This game is appropriate for all ages and is fantastic for teaching little ones how to be quiet and patient! It’s a great game for any parent who needs a little quiet time!
Additionally, it can be great to assign a little one to an older child for a little bit of a lesson in responsibility. A disinterested pre-teen will quickly become engaged when they’re asked to help a younger player.
History & Culture Of Hide & Seek
The game of Hide and Seek has a long history, with most historians comparing our modern Hide and Seek with the game Apodidraskinda which was described by 2nd century Greek writer Julius Pollux.
The game is played throughout the world with different versions being popular in different countries.
In Nigeria for example, a game of Oro is played by the Igbo children which is a combination of Hide and Seek and tag.
A large circle is drawn in the sand where the seeker counts and when finished, the seeker finds and chases the other players who must run back to the circle to safety. The first player touched outside the circle is the next seeker.
I won’t ruin the rest of the article by giving away too many more versions just yet!
There is an international Hide and Seek competition called the ‘Nascondino World Championship’ which was first held in Italy in 2010.
It is held annually in Italy during the summer and reportedly first began as a joke during a birthday party when a spontaneous game of ‘nanscondino’ (hide-and-seek in Italian) broke out and the participants wondered if there was an international competition. There was none and so an idea was born.
While the event is a sporting competition, the organizers want the theme to be one of socialist and fun and so there is hidden live music and other forms of entertainment for teams to find amongst the natural and created hiding spaces.
The largest-ever game of Hide and Seek was held in Chengdu in 2014 where 1437 participated in the Guinness World Record attempt.
Hide and Seek is also firmly ingrained in pop culture with both a horror film starring Robert De Niro and a Japanese anime short inspired by this famous game.
5 Hide & Seek Variations to Keep the Game Fresh
In this version, only one person hides and everyone else looks for them. Once found, the seeker must hide with the original person hiding.
The idea is that the hiding spot becomes more and more cramped as all the people hiding become squished in, like sardines in a tin! The last person to find everyone becomes the first hider in the next game.
This version is SO much fun for little ones who will ultimately give away their hiding spot with their giggles which makes for an adorable find. It also challenges the original hider to consider that their hiding spot has to fit all but one person playing, which can be really tricky!
Sardines is my youngsters favorite and she is incredible at finding unbelievably challenging hiding spots for us all. She once had the entire family (safely) up a tree with her older brother left wondering where on earth everyone could have gone!
2. Tag Meets Hide & Seek
In this excellent mash-up of two classic games, the seeker must not only find the players hiding, but also catch them!
The true joy of this Hide and Seek tag is in the re-hiding. If the player hiding escapes the seeker then they can hide from them again, but beware!
Seekers can be sneaky and occasionally will pretend to have lost in order to watch the new hiding place and sneak up on players to catch them!
We’ve had more than one serious fright when someone thought they’d not only escaped capture but had also found an amazing new hiding place, only to be caught seconds later.
This version of the game seriously burns energy and is a great one for active kids who love to run and chase.
This is a great one for birthday parties when everyone is full of sugar and needs to run out some of their energy.
3. Home Base
Home Base can be played in three different ways (a three-for-one!). In all three, a home base is established, which can be central to the field of play, or can be in an obscure area.
The positioning of the home base adds an extra element to the game-play. A central home base is easily monitored by the seeker but could be easier to get to as well.
An obscure home base is harder for the seeker to keep an eye on, but could also be harder to sneak up on for hiders.
It’s nice to make the home base something with a 360 circumference (like a tree), making it harder to defend and more fun to sneak up on! The Home Base versions of the Hide and Seek game are all great for kids who enjoy strategy but are still easy enough for little ones to understand.
Home Base – Version 1
The first version is similar to the tag/Hide and Seek mash-up, in which the seeker, once spotting a hider, announces their find by calling their name and saying ‘I SEE YOU’.
The hider who has been spotted then has to sprint back to home base before the seeker catches them. If the hider successfully gets back to the home base, they are safe.
Whoever the seeker catches or tags first is the seeker for the next round. If everyone makes it back to Home Base safely, then the seeker has to seek again.
The strategy comes in with the hiding because the hiders must find a place where they won’t be seen, but also won’t be caught. If they’re in a cupboard, then the seeker may not easily find them, but once found, they will catch them quickly!
Home Base – Version 2
In the second version, Home Base is a “safe zone” and the goal of the hiders is to get to the safe zone as many times as possible without being tagged.
Usually, an amount of time is allotted and when a timer goes off, the hider with the most number of home base touches wins and whoever has the least is the seeker for the next round.
This is where strategy comes in for the seeker.
They can choose to defend their home base, meaning hiders have to find ways to sneak up on the seeker or they can go out and try to find players, meaning that seekers risk being found out in the open if they want to touch home base.
If hiders safely get to home base, they are safe, but their goal is to go out again and hide. The game may be quickly paced if the seeker wants to protect their home base, with hiders having to sprint up to touch home base and quickly get away again.
Or it can be more of a game of quiet sneaking around if the seeker is out looking, where hiders must quietly get to home base and get out again without bringing the seeker’s attention to them.
Home Base – Version 3
The final version of Home Base is for the older kids because it takes place… in the dark (cue spooky music). This Home Base after dark version of Hide and Seek is great for older kids’ sleep-overs for anyone with a big enough backyard.
Everyone dresses in black and are split into two teams, one of hiders and one of seekers. This game is all about stealth and strategy and the rules are the same as above, but since it’s a team sport, the teams can strategize.
The goal of the hiders is to touch home base as many times as possible to gain points for their team. Every successful touch is another point, but the hider must escape without being tagged.
Some teams may want to use their quickest player to distract seekers to allow other players to hit Home Base and get points. Others may want to rush home base all at once to overwhelm the seekers.
The job of the seekers is to catch the hider before or after their touch home base.
If a hider gets caught in an attempt at home base, then the point does not count and they have to stay on home base without going out again.
A timer is used and the teams swap roles and after two rounds, the team with the most points as hiders, are the winners.
4. Hide & Seek with Objects
Hike and Seek with objects adds yet another component to this classic game. It works the same way as the classic Hide and Seek game, except each seeker has an object.
At the start of the game, every seeker chooses an object, which can be anything, but they must show the hider the object before play begins.
It usually works best to have objects which are a bit larger and easy to spot, but in small spaces, smaller objects work well too.
When the seeker is counting, the hiders must hide themselves AND their object. They can keep the object on them or hide it somewhere different, but they must do it before the seeker finishes counting.
The seeker hunts for both people and objects. If they find a hider, then that player must give them a clue to the location of their object. They can be as cryptic as they like to make it hard for the seeker, but they must give a helpful clue.
If they have the object with them then they’d better be in a good hiding spot! The fun element of this game is that your object may be found before you which increases the suspense.
For this version of the game, there are lots of different toys that you can purchase to make this even more fun.
For little ones, we love the talking Elmo toy. You hide Elmo and then the kids have to find him by listening for the toy calling out, or by using clue cards that often come with the toys.
5. Ghost in the Graveyard
Another night-time version of our favorite game!
In this game, there is one ghost. Everyone but the ghost counts and while they are counting, the ghost “hides”.
Once they have finished counting, the ghost’s job is to sneak up on players and tag them, turning them into ghosts. The winner is the person who evades all the other ghosts the longest.
Playing Hide and Seek Online
Okay, so I know this seems slightly out of place since I’ve spent this whole article talking about the benefits of getting outdoors. However, there are benefits to online play as well.
As a Jumping-Off Point
this is the world we live in and in our house, we have found that we can utilize online versions of games to convince cranky teenagers to give the real thing a try.
Our eldest became absolutely ensconced in the world of gaming when Fortnight came out when he was 10.
We tried and tried to lure him from his gaming to play with his younger siblings, but he was surly and uncooperative. Until finally, we found another option.
We used the below games to get him to play a little interactive Hide and Seek and it seemed to inspire him to want to try the real thing again.
Now, our kids may use the online Hide and Seek on rainy days, or if they’re tired after sport, or on days when we just don’t want them running around like maniacs.
For Kids With Physical or Emotional Challenges
The second benefit for online Hide and Seek is for kids who may not be able to readily and easily play the real thing. There’s a multitude of reasons why running around the house might not work for some kids.
It may be that they can’t, it may be that they’re unsure or not immediately up to it. One of my middle child’s good friends is on the Autism spectrum and his Mom asked us to keep a lid on our naturally noisy house during a play-date.
We found that introducing him to online Hide and Seek was a great way to then make him comfortable enough with the game to eventually introduce the real thing just a short while later.
Finally, online options can create a new world of creativity for kids. Below are some of my favorite online Hide and Seek games. Some of them are more traditional and some require complex imaginative tasks, which is great for stimulating kids’ brains.
Best Hide and Seek Games Online
Steam Hide and Seek
Steam Hide and Seek is traditional Hide and Seek translated into an online environment. It takes place in a real-world setting so it may not be best for very young children. The game is a bit sluggish but has some cool features so it is worth checking out.
Sandbox Games Hide & Seek
Like the Steam version, this is traditional Hide and Seek taken online. This version is set in a cartoon world so my kids seem to react better to it.
There are guns in this version though, so take caution for very little ones.
Dark Horror Games – Horror Hide and Seek
If you’ve got a daredevil child on your hands then this is for you! This horror Hide and Seek game adds an extra spooky element to the game!
Not for the faint-hearted and not just before bed! This is a great one for those surly teenagers who might declare that Hide and Seek is “lame”!
Minecraft Hide and Seek
Minecraft is one of the most popular high-selling games of all time. If you’ve got kids, then you definitely know about Minecraft!
These Minecraft versions of Hide and Seek are great for luring kids into playing the real thing by introducing them via something they already love.
This is one of my favorite ones for cultivating creativity in kids as they build tools to help them seek or hide. A great one for rainy days!
Finger Legend Hide and Seek mini-game