How to Play Red Light Green Light

By James Holloway
There's no yellow light in Red Light Green Light.

The classic children's game Red Light Green Light tests listening skills, coordination and speed, with the winner being not just the fastest player but the most alert and controlled. The basics of this game are very simple, with only a few common variations.

What You'll Need

To play Red Light Green Light, you'll need a large playing area such as a gymnasium or open field. Denote a starting line and place all but one of the players along it. The remaining player is the "traffic light." This player will stand at the opposite end of the field by the finish line.

Playing the Game

The traffic light player calls out "green light!" to begin the game. All the other players begin to run toward the finish line until the traffic light shouts "red light!" Any player who keeps moving after "red light" is called is out of the game. Until the next "green light," all the players must remain completely still. If a player moves, she is out. The winner is the first player to cross the finish line or the last player eliminated.

Simple Variations

In some versions of this game, the traffic light player stands with his back to the others, only turning around when "red light" is called to check whether anyone is moving. In others, the traffic light stays facing the others at all times. Some versions allow the traffic light player to shout "red light" twice in sequence in order to trick over-eager players who aren't paying attention to the words.

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.