The “cat-and-mouse recreation,” because it’s often referred to regionally, has gone viral in China this 12 months, drawing 1000’s of individuals throughout the nation to occasions each week. It’s a enjoyable mixture of a childhood recreation, in-person networking, the most recent location-sharing expertise, and meme-worthy expertise. When the sport first emerged in February, movies of hide-and-seek gamers who went wild—climbing up timber, hiding within the sewers—received tens of millions of views on social media.
Every contest convenes dozens of individuals in a predetermined space, typically a big metropolis park. All of them then be a part of a bunch on Amap, a Chinese language Google Maps different, and share their reside location. Among the many members, 90% are designated as “mice” and have 5 minutes to run and conceal. Then the remaining, who’re “cats,” will exit and search out every mouse with the assistance of the situation sharing, in addition to a neon wristband that visually separates them from nonparticipants. As soon as caught, the mice swap groups and be a part of the cats, so the sport will get tougher and tougher for the remaining mice.
Throughout a brief journey to Hong Kong final month, I joined two cat-and-mouse video games within the metropolis. Each of them had about 40 members and lasted one hour. The primary park was bigger and had fewer folks, that means it was prime for working and chasing; the second was crowded and smaller, which made it superb for attempting to mix in with passersby.
Being an indoor particular person, I’m not at all times a fan of group bodily actions, however the two experiences went far past my expectations. The addition of location sharing has turned the youngsters’ recreation right into a extra interactive model of Pokémon Go. Attempting to stay hidden in the identical spot all through the sport was not attainable, because the cats might at all times see the place I used to be; I wanted to get extra artistic in crafting an escape plan. I rapidly realized that deception—hiding my glowing bracelet, pretending to be an harmless jogger, and avoiding checking my telephone too typically—was additionally important to being mouse.
Simply watching everybody’s places within the app was an intense expertise. Dozens of little avatars had been floating round within the park directly, with cats regularly outnumbering mice as the sport progressed. Delays and bugs had been lots, however that added to the enjoyable and problem of the sport. I might really feel protected at one second, seeing there have been no cats round, and panic seconds later when a cat immediately moved tons of of toes towards me, probably as a result of its location sharing had lagged.
As a first-timer, I did okay. For my first recreation, I survived as a mouse till the previous few minutes, when largely everybody else had transformed to the cat facet. For my second outing, I transformed mid-game and caught two mice myself.
I’ll readily admit some folks had been a lot better than I used to be. Hong Shizhe, a 19-year-old faculty scholar, was topped the “cat king” of the second recreation, having caught 11 mice by the tip. “I like that you would be able to each train and have enjoyable on this exercise,” Hong says. He first realized concerning the recreation by means of movies folks shared on Chinese language social media, and he has been to a number of video games in Hong Kong and mainland China since. He informed me the biggest one had greater than 140 members. As soon as, he even took his canine to the park with him and nonetheless gained the sport.
His secret for achievement? Numerous lies and politics: “You can also make a cope with the mice and have them enable you discover different little mice. You can too fake to be a mouse and strike up a chat with them.”