The 100 Candle Game: A Primer


With recent interest and inquiries into The 100 Candle Game, I thought I’d do a write up on how to set the mood for the game, how to assure a fun and spooky time for all and just how one actually “plays” the game.

I’d like to preface this by saying that I am in no way an expert in regards to The 100 Candle Game. Nor am I an expert when it comes to dealing with ghosts or other supernatural entities. I am just imparting some of my experience having played the game and what worked each time we played. Keep in mind, playing a game such as The 100 Candle Game may result in unforeseen, adverse reactions in mentally unstable individuals and/or unexplained supernatural phenomenon. You’ve been warned.

The origins of this game are rooted in feudal Japan where it was once used as a right of passage and test of courage for young Samurai. The game then caught on with the townsfolk and became a popular pastime. The game involves lighting 100 candles and for each candle a ghost story is told. After the telling of each story one of the candles is extinguished. As each story is told the room grows darker and darker until the participants are left sitting in pitch darkness. It is said that the game is an evocation and when the final story is told and the room is shrouded in darkness a spirit will manifest itself. Click HERE to read about our own personal experiences playing the game for the first time at our Halloween party last year.

Here are some tips and techniques that will help assure that your experience with The 100 Candle Game (T100CG) will not only be scary but fun as well.

Let’s begin by talking a little bit about mood. The atmosphere going into the game is paramount.

Everyone involved must be committed to keeping a serious attitude throughout. Nothing will undercut any sense of fear or uneasiness than someone making jokes or laughing at inappropriate moments. Anyone not willing or unable to keep a serious demeanor should be asked to not participate. I should also mention that anyone having consumed alcohol/drugs should refrain from playing. Not only is there a possibility that anyone that is drinking could disrupt the game it is said that anyone under the influence is more susceptible to the effects or possible attacks from supernatural entities.

Next up you need a proper environment to play in. Most any room will do as long as it will comfortably accommodate all participants. Another important factor to consider when choosing an environment for T100CG is how dark can you make the room? If there are outside light sources, ie: street lights, yard lights or nearby businesses can the shades and curtains be drawn tight? If not, are there blankets/sheets or towels available to tack up over the windows? Darkness is a very important mechanic of the game because as each story is told and another candle is blown out the room grows darker and darker increasing the overall sense of tension and dread. Ideally you want to start the game after the sun has already gone down and after every light in the house has been extinguished.

The next factor to consider when choosing your game playing locale is noise. Ideally you want to play the game in a house/room with little to no outside noise that may distract from or otherwise interfere in the mounting sense of dread. Nothing will kill the mood faster than a police siren, a car horn or a cell phone ringing. Make sure that every individual participating has their cell phone shut off, not just turned on vibrate. Also if possible play the game in an interior room of the house to help dampen any outside noises. This will also help to achieve absolute darkness. Playing the game late in the night will also help assure minimal outside noises as well. Achieving a quiet game environment not only lends to the overall atmosphere of the experience but also affords you the ability to hear any noises that may signal the arrival or presence of a supernatural entity.

After you have the mood set, you need to gather two important supplies. The first you already have: a group of friends and family members that have ghost stories to share. The second is some candles.

As the game’s name indicates it is traditionally played with 100 candles and thus 100 stories. However, each of the times I played it we had one candle for every participant. If you have 100 friends or a group of friends with 100 stories to tell, then by all means light 100 candles and proceed as the game had initially been played. Keep in mind though, having 100 candles lit at the same time will not only present a very serious fire hazard, but will undoubtedly cause the room to become very warm, very quickly. If you’re like me though, you probably don’t have 100 friends or 100 stories to tell. So gather your guests and give them each a candle.

For the candles, I recommend getting some votive candles in glass holders. Votives will last long enough for everyone to tell their stories and the glass holder will help protect your hands from the heat as well as keep melted wax from spilling on the carpet, floor and clothing. You can purchase a 12 pack of white unscented votive candles in glass holders at Wal-Mart for less than $6.

After all of the participants have a lighted candle and have gathered in the designated room, go to every other room of the house and make sure all of the lights have been turned off. Don’t forget to switch off night lights, computers, unplug lighted alarm clocks and turn off porch and yard lights. Turn the ringer on the phone off and ask all of the participants to turn their cell phones off. Once the house has been plunged into darkness save for the lit candles you are ready to begin. At this time if you deem it necessary (we didn’t) you can say a prayer of protection or perform any other ceremony you may see fit at the time. This prayer/ceremony can be said/performed again after the game has ended.

Once everyone is situated and the house is lit only by the candles of the participants it is time to begin with the story telling. The stories told need to be true. They do not necessarily need to be first hand accounts experienced by the teller but they need to have actually happened. Of course, first hand stories are always better as the teller can add in details and emotion a second hand teller cannot. As the organizer of our 100 Candle Games I always got things started and broke the ice with the first story of the evening. After that there usually isn’t a problem with somebody jumping in and telling the next tale. After each story is concluded the teller will blow out or snuff their candle and the next person begins their ghost story. If there are people you’ve just meet at the game you will no doubt hear some new and creepy stories. Even life long friends may tell a story they may have never told anyone before for one reason or another.

As little pockets of the group grow dimmer and dimmer and you hear one ghostly story after another a growing sense of tension begins to pervade the room. As someone tells a story you may hear something move upstairs. You may see something creep past the window outside or you may feel something brush past your neck. Is it the house settling? Or maybe it’s a tree branch windswept past the window? Maybe it’s a spirit that has been attracted by all of the talk of its spiritual brethren. Whether there is a logical explanation for anything you may experience or not, what T100CG does is stir up fears and tensions in us that causes us to think every little noise we hear or shadow we see is a spirit. After the final story is told and as the teller blows out their candle the group should sit silently in the dark for a few moments. Allow your eyes to adjust to the total darkness, keep your eyes open and listen carefully. Each event is different and you may experience something you cannot explain.

Whether you have a supernatural experience or not, you still just had a very spooky and fun evening spent telling ghost stories with friends and family.

So, on that note, I encourage everyone to go out gather your friends, get some candles and play a 100 Candle Game of your own. If you have any experiences you wish to share or have any questions please feel free to comment below or send them this way via email at

Stay in the shadows,


Published by Jack

Graphic designer fixated on retro video games, horror movies, trading cards, bootleg action figures and professional wrestling.

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