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How A College Gaming Tradition Could Clean Up FaceBook Pages

Published: February, 2006

How confusing can it get? On college campuses kids are cleaning up their FaceBook pages, hiding their identities, and no longer revealing their dorm addresses and phone numbers to the world. Could it be that parents and professors have finally knocked some sense into their naive, collective heads?

Let’s not flatter ourselves. The reason that they’re going undercover is to escape being assassinated by fellow classmates in a very real world game that’s re-sweeping college campuses called Assassin.

Assassin is not a new game. Wikipedia dates the first games all the way back to the 80’s. The rules are as complicated and diverse as students themselves, and the game is played differently on different campuses, and with different moderators.

The moderator is the all knowing. Most of them use websites to track the game’s progress and a game begins with an email telling you who your target is and telling you to kill them. But no one is just a killer. If you’re a player, you are a target as well as a killer. You’ve got code names, and you may have accomplices or at least try to find some.

The death weapons? On some campuses they’re water balloons, on some it’s a smackdown with a sock. Some go high tech and use SMS messages; others go for metaphors and use hot sauce as poison or spoons as knives. Sure there are a few safety zones (thankfully for tuition paying parents most classrooms are safe) but a game is not just a game when you’re playing Assassins. It’s a life-invading disruption. It doesn’t stop at 9AM or rest on the weekends. You can be killed while grabbing lunch or walking to campus.

One of my own is involved in the game as I write this and has stopped going to the library for fear of death. He dashes down back hallways to class, and today he told me he stalked another kid for an hour — waiting for his prey.

But to me, the irony is that Assassins, this virtual game in the physical world is the one thing that got these kids to scrub their Facebook profiles. After all, if you’re playing a game where it’s kill or be killed, you don’t want to be giving out your name and address in cyberspace, now do you?

The parents’ lesson in all of this? The enemy you know is always better. His Facebook is squeaky clean; but he’s afraid for his virtual life.