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12 Intriguing Facts About Tag (Game) – History, Psychology, Events,…

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Vintage photo of children running
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Tag is an exciting and vigorous game that is played all over the world. We associate this game with some squealing, energetic kids in the playground most of the time, but have you noticed that many creatures in the animal world also play this game? Puppies, young wolves, squirrels, and other animals play this prey-predator game with equal joy as children do. 

On top of that, our human mind seems to find something appealing about being chased and chasing other people. As a result, some people continue to play this chasing game well after childhood – be it professional or just for its fun.

Tag is a universal game. It includes a multitude of variations and has quite a bit of psychology behind the gameplay. Most people don’t realize that this prey-predator game is a significant part of many other sports. Tag is definitely a fun playground game, but it is also a game that has made moments in history and something that has interested both psychologists and scientists.

Are you interested to learn more about what’s behind this legendary game called tag? Read on.

These are 12 intriguing facts about Tag that will stun you!  

1. What’s In A Name? 

In 2018, some people began posting internet memes that claimed that “tag” was an acronym for “touch and go.” How accurate is that? A factual look at history shows that “tag” actually comes from the Middle English word “tik,” which means a “touch” or “tap.” The noun was first recorded in Great Britain during the late 17th century. 

Depending on where they come from, English children have called this game tick, tig, tag, and touch down through the centuries. So, tag wasn’t created as an acronym, although it is a fun one.

2. A Universal Game 

Tag is a game enjoyed by people all around the globe. 

In Romania, the game is called “leapșa” – which means “slap.” The French usually call this game “jeu du loup” or the wolf game. The wolf is the player who chases the others! One of India’s most popular national games is “kabbadi,” which is a high-octane form of tag that is said to be 4,000 years old – with the Buddha being one of its past fans.

3. Cops and Robbers 

Cops and Robbers is one of the most popular variants of tag that bears the same name worldwide. The game is played with two equal teams – the cops and the robbers. Spanish children call it “Policías y ladrones”, the Romanians “Hoții și vardiștii,” the French “Gendarmes et voleurs” and the Italian “Guardie e ladri.” No matter where you go, kids are sure to be familiar with this exciting game.

4. Strange Variations

Children around the world play unique variations of this tag that may sound strange to you. For instance, some pretend that the touch carries diseases. For example, if you are in Madagascar, the touch would carry leprosy! If you are a Spanish child, the touch would mean fleas or a horrible plague! 

Others prescribe a method of achieving immunity from these plagues – such as touching iron, wood, or a specific color, or even getting on a particular position such as crouching. Could pandemics that happened in the past give insight into these variations? What do you think?

5. Tag In Sports 

If you consider, many formal team sports are evolutions of tag in one way or another. Think of soccer. The primary goal and excitement of the game are in running across a field while kicking a ball as a horde of opponents come after you to get the ball. Basketball, cricket, and hockey are all similar. 

Vintage photo shows soccer team, 1939
artnana / Shutterstock.com

The batter has to race from one safe point to another while being chased by the “enemies.” These games have the element of tag, where a player tries to defend himself while being pursued by the predators.

6. Psychology Behind Tag

Yes, Tag has been a subject of interest for psychologists and scientists. In tag, the preferred position is always in the one being chased and not the chaser. Rather than trying to catch a mob of running kids, the player wants to spend as much time being chased. Likewise, in sports such as football, the preferred position is always offense (being chased) rather than defense (chasing).

If you’ve been chased in a nightmare or real life, it probably wasn’t a pleasant experience. So why do we prefer being prey rather than predator in play?

Philosopher and naturalist Karl Groos pointed out that animals find joy in fleeing from one another in play because of natural selection. By engaging in such play, young animals develop skills to escape from predators in real life effectively; what is fearful in real life becomes fun in play. 

The ability to escape predators is a clear requirement for survival. This might be a reasonable explanation for why fans cheer with joy as a quarterback makes his way around one scary defender after another to the goal.

7. Laser Tag 

Laser tag is a pretty modern invention and an exciting form of tag. Laser tag was developed in the 1970s by the US Army for military training purposes, where soldiers practiced shooting enemies with laser guns and vests with sensors. 

However, laser tag reached the mainstream only after Star Wars, when the market began producing laser toy guns for home use. Today, laser tag is a popular sport, with arenas and international tournaments being held across the globe!

8. One of the Largest Games Of Tag

On September 16, 2019, at the Expo Commemoration Park in Osaka, Japan, 10,908 people gathered to play the world’s most giant game of tag. 

Who hosted this crazy game, and how in the world did they manage to play it? The contest was sponsored by Fischer’s, a YouTube channel with millions of subscribers. Silk Road, Ndaho, Masai, Motoki, Zakao – five of the channel members, ran around trying to tag the most people in the massive crowd.

Each participant had a pair of numbers placed on the front and back of his body, which he needed to peel off after being tagged immediately. It was a 30-minute-long game, where a crowd of hundreds at a time ran across the field while being chased by one of five guys. Around 250 inspectors were needed to monitor the game. Quite a sight!

9. One of the Largest Games Of Freeze Tag

In Freeze Tag, once you are tagged, you have to remain frozen until another player comes by to touch and unfreeze you.

One of the largest games of freeze tag was achieved by students of Phoenix Elementary School District #1, in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 13, 2019. 

According to the Guinness World Book Record, 2,172 students from first to eighth grade gathered on a football field to set a new world record of freeze tag. Twenty students were the “it” players and wore yellow vests. The rest of the players were divided into yellow, red, green, and blue teams. At the end of the game, the yellow team was declared the winner, with 103 students left standing.

10. One of the Largest Games of Balloon Tag

If you have played ballon tag, you know that the whole point of the game is to pop balloons off all the other players while protecting your own. Oh, and the balloons are tied around your ankles, making it much more difficult!

children with balloons running
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One of the biggest games of balloon tag consisted of 1,514 students from the University of California-Irvine on September 26, 2018. Students from UCI have been setting world records since 2010 – achieving records such as the largest water-pistol fight, the largest game of dodgeball, and even the world’s largest pillow fight. It sounds like a lot of fun!

11. One of the Longest Laser Tag Marathons

Adults seem to have hogged a lot of fun playing tag. The longest laser tag marathon was achieved by Zap Zone and lasted 26 hours and 40 seconds. The marathon took place in Canton, Michigan, from August 22-23, 2019. Each team consisted of 8 players, and they played one hour-long game in 24 rounds!

12. World Chase Tag 

As we’ve already seen, the game of tag remains dear and near to many people way past childhood. Two brothers, Christian and Damien Devaux, formed the World Chase Tag in 2011. The competition has received worldwide interest via social media platforms, with official WCT competitions staged in countries around the globe.

Last Word

The game of tag is a game that develops skills such as agility, balance, coordination, accuracy, and precision in both chasing and evading. Both children, adults, and animals greatly enjoy and benefit from this game. So next time your kids chase each other around the house, or when you watch your favorite soccer player darting on the field, you will surely remember these intriguing facts about Tag!

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.