My Life

Slender Man

The other day my eldest came home and went on and on about a new game of tag they were playing at school. They called it “Slender Man Tag” and as he detailed all the weird rules they had created for it, I have to admit to no small amount of confusion. I had no idea what a Slender Man was or why kids would play a tag variant based on it.

So, after assuring him that the game sounded absolutely fun, I scurried to the Internet. ( Wikipedia is my friend.)

I learned that Slender Man is an Internet meme about a tall, spooky looking dude who has cropped up all over the place, a creature in Minecraft is even named in honor of it. While that’s interesting, I am a bit more intrigued by the “real world” implications. This meme has moved from the Internet to the playground and judging by my son’s (and his friends) interest in it, is rather important to them.

Of course my son does not believe this is how Slender Man originated… he believes the “myth” behind Slender Man, it is what they talk about on the playground and ranks up there for him with Bloody Mary and other “classics”. Many of his friends have supposedly seen the Slender Man on the playground, which is not creepy at all.

(And something somewhat random: Has anyone else noticed their kids using “software speak” when describing playground games? My son and his friends routinely “roll out” an improvement to a game and occasionally have to “roll it back” if it turns out to not be fun.)

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.


  • James Paten

    Hi Brent,

    That is truly fascinating. While I had been familiar with the Slenderman meme/myth, I had no idea that it would cross over to the real world, let alone into the minds of children on the playground.

    In today’s world, as technology and the web become more ingrained with not only out daily lives, but (with the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices) our minute-to-minute existence, the lines between the digital mindset and the “real” one is becoming harder to define. Still, examples like this show just how far this phenomenon has expanded.

    Good post!

  • Brent Knowles

    Hi James,

    Glad you enjoyed the post! I suspect I’ll be stumbling into more of this kind of thing as my kids get older. I’m finding it interesting contrasting my childhood with theirs — many of the core events remain the same but the actual “presentation” is changing in interesting ways.

  • Harold Gardner

    I suspect your child’s use of software metaphors might be an example of the fruit not falling far from the tree.

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