Children’s games have never strictly been “children’s” games, and what goes into the commonly, oft-lightly used term “child’s play” has a close relationship with a lived, socio-cultural context. Netflix’s new TV series, Squid Game, presents an interesting take on children’s games by placing popular Korean children’s games into the frame of a dystopian, survival game which is watched as a live telecast by a group of entertainment-hungry billionaires, finally presented to the Netflix audience in the master-frame of an episodic drama, and, subsequently, replicated and subverted as online games by fans of the series. This chapter is an examination of the six games, including Ddakji game, Red Light, Green Light, the Dalgona Challenge, the Tug-of-War, multiple variations of marbles games, the Stepping Stone Bridge game and finally, the Squid Game itself, played in the series, with specific interest towards the game design, player strategies and subversive gameplay.

Squid Game offers a point of intervention into existing notions of players in co-op playing, presenting a valuable opportunity to study games with reference to the politics of competitive survival as well as the category of games in and as digitizing the planetary and using the concept of “teamwork” to “stick together” and make it out.