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Elevator Games

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Elevator: a mechanical device, designed to take people up many floors of public or commercial buildings. Also known as a lift.

A lift can be a very boring place indeed. It takes quite some time to rise through even three or four floors of a building, let alone 50, which is the usual number of floors that one has to go just to reach a floor with a working toilet. Therefore, one is generally either forced to talk to other people in the lift, or play what is called an elevator (or lift) game.

Getting Started

If you have just found out you have to work in building with a large, slow lift, and want to know what to do, rest assured - help is at hand. If you feel the need to start a game it's pretty easy. However, your first game is always the hardest - but the thrill from it will be amazing. The best way to start is to allow yourself to make up a small trick, or something of that order. It won't be particularly funny, or brilliantly popular, but it is the least likely to get you in trouble. The best lift games are generally the most unexpected.

If you find yourself in a lift with a lot of people who are not speaking then the best way to secure your instant fame is to simply tell a joke (not too spicy or overused). Try to watch/listen to a humorous programme or go to a comedy night, and then the next day simply tell that joke if you don't have anything else on your mind.

Train, Bus or Car Games

These types of game can be played elsewhere, though this would really be a separate entry. Cars have very limited space, and the best game you can play is 'I Spy'. People on underground trains are almost always far too lost in their own business to notice anything you say. However, street theatre on the tube can get a good reaction. But make sure you do it one or two stops before yours. And make it a short scene. Buses are too full most of the time, and bus drivers may simply tell you to get off.

Basic Skills

You may wonder why we need a section on basic skills. After all, surely it's not that hard. However, it can be if you're doing a street theatre-like scene, mime act, or something that requires a lot of preparation. Logistics are the main key in lift games. The thing you have to do the most of is plan, plan, plan. You will probably need a group of people if you want to do a more complex game. Getting Security on your side never hurt anyone. All forms of the more complex game require some skill - you need to be fast, and ready to go. You also need an audience, and preferably a camera if you're doing it as a joke on a fellow employee. Elevator games or scenes can be great for a 50th birthday, or even for that 'special someone'.


You need to be fast, and ready to go on time - you can't predict your audience. So, just close the door of the lift1 and get someone to wait outside. As soon as you're ready, get him/her to allow the doors to open by pressing the button, and hey presto: 'Surprise!' or whatever you please. The faster you are, the less disturbance you cause.

If you're going to be particularly messy, OK it with the building CO first. If you can't get the CO's permission, always promise to clean up afterwards. If it's still a no-go, cut your losses and go somewhere else. You can always use the staircase, but be prepared for a scowling. The staircase in most modern buildings is a fire escape, and if you're obstructing it in any way you could be charged a hefty fine.


As has been said before, planning is the key. Whatever you do, have it planned down to the very last detail. If you're doing (for example) a 'silly buggers' version of the game (see types of game below) then you don't need to worry about it. 'Silly buggers' comes naturally and should always be always ad-libbed. However, a planned game needs to have the best logistics money can buy. If you can't prove there is no danger to the CO, he won't OK it. The last thing he wants is an ambulance or fire engine outside his building. Remember - don't hassle the authorities, if they don't want a part of it you will get in far more trouble if you go ahead and get caught.


The Authorities are stiff people. They have to deal with quite a lot. You can't blame them for wanting no part in a 'game'. If you call it a 'socio-political experiment', or something along those lines, they might be more likely to OK it, because they feel they can profit from it. If you can't win them over, you may have to pay them danger money, saying it's funding and compensation for anything that may go wrong. If they don't take the money you may have to call it quits. Getting in a camera crew and doing it like a sketch comedy or something like that will probably get you thrown out before you can say 'But...' It is however worth a try. If you work at the building in question, work on the CO for a while, whittling him down so that eventually he gives the go-ahead. If it's the CO you're planning the game for, you will have to get everyone else in the building to be on your side.


Doing the game for money is not recommended. Unless you're really good, people will just stop and stare. Doing 'street-theatre-in-the-lift' is mostly for fun, not for money. If you can't earn a crust and are really desperate, go right ahead, just be careful - people might not like it.

Types of Elevator Game

The Planned Game

These are much like street theatre, only more confusing and more fun for the participants. There are thousands of things you can do in a lift with a little preparation and a group of friends. You can, for example, play out a scene of Hamlet as the door opens, with all the Shakespearean trimmings and well-acted scenes. You could have a crime scene investigation unit with the murder chalk outline, the guy taking photos, the detective with the notepad, the blood on the floor and 'I am after you!' written in tomato sauce on the wall. The main idea of this version of the game is to cause the maximum amount of confusion when the doors next open. It also means a lot of fun for you.

Philological Game

Crowding in, saying 'They're out to get you!' or doing a philological game can be fun for you. However, consider your target carefully. Don't do this version of the game if the person you chose is in any way mentally unstable. If you don't know, don't do it. If you haven't experienced this yourself please don't go causing over people misery. The idea of the game is fun, not simply experimental. It's meant to be a game, after all, not someone's idea of scaring someone.

The Un-revised Game

Sometimes a lift game can be seen as a prank. This is not the case. A lift game is an form of post-modern street theatre, that has been made to suit the commercial world, or as some would put it, 'being bloody silly buggers'. The unrevised game is generally when someone thinks, 'Would not it be funny if I tried to...next time someone came in?' An unrevised game is sometimes considerably bad for your health. The main idea of this version of the game is to experiment with behavioural patterns; however it is not always apparent that you are actually carrying out the experiment at the time. Thus allowing 'double blind' results.

The Silly Buggers Game

This is when someone really is playing silly buggers2, and it is what gives the lift game a bad name. It is generally when someone presses all the buttons at once (newer lifts have ways of de-pressing buttons because of this). Little kids generally do this as a joke, or you can do it when you're going home late and you know that the girl a floor down from you will really enjoy a long lift trip with you (yes some sad people actually do this). The main idea of this version of the game is either to sass (have sex with) or to annoy the people who next enter the lift.

Another version of this is the 'Boss Chase' or 'Lift Cat-and-Mouse'. You can play this by getting to work early and waiting in the foyer until you see your boss or another random employee3. This is also a good way to keep fit. You can either get into the employee lift and press the door-close button just as they enter the foyer and see you, or you can play the other version of this type of game, which is more cat-and-mouse-like.

All you have to do is wait until the boss gets in the lift and press the bottom floor lift call button. Then quickly move to the next floor via the staircase (or a quicker lift) and press the lift call button there, before the lift gets to that floor. Repeat this pattern until you no longer manage to catch the lift, or get to your target floor. Your boss (or random employee) should be on the same floor as you to get maximum enjoyment out of this type of game. This way, you are sitting comfortably at your desk when, lo and behold, your boss comes in and complains about the long lift ride. It is imperative that you have a slow lift for your boss to be in for this version of the game, otherwise it will outrun you by far. A smaller, rather than larger, office block gives more enjoyment on your behalf and you're less likely to be caught out.

Lift Sex

The slightly more private subject of sex in a lift is a varied one. Some people prefer the rushed nature of 'doing it' in the lift. The nature is generally someone pressing the stop button and then doing it, with whoever else is in the lift.

Coming out of the lift, you're likely to look flustered and sweaty - so get off on a floor that is less populated and take the fire stairs if you think you will be in trouble. Lifts generally have cameras, but if there is no power, there is no camera (or light - but that's only a minor problem). So, if you can organise to have the power cut-out you can probably do it in private in the lift. Unless you want to be doing it on camera, of course, if you do and that's what floats your boat, fine.

Lift Hide and Seek

This is easy to play. You and a friend take different lifts, and then try and find each other on whatever floor. The hiders can't use the ground floor or any other floor that has already been used. However, the seeker may have to look on a floor he has already searched. This is best done in a smaller building.

Lift Races

Going up? Race as many lifts as possible to the top floor. The more people and more lifts there are, the better the results. You can also race to ground or basement floors.

Lift Mystery Tour

Press a random floor in a lift and go with it. When you get to that floor, make sure you look as though you go there all the time, and walk around for a bit. However, get back to the lift before security catches you, and run like stink out of the lift.


Take the stairs to the floor of your choice, and then catch the lift to your floor. At the end of the day, do this in reverse, as if the lift goes no further than that floor. You will baffle your friends, and when they ask, just say you prefer the stairs from that floor down or something.


Cameras in lifts are no problem for an experienced lift gamer. He will generally already be in costume, and ready to act out the game - all caught on tape, yes, but good luck in finding out who it is. However, the cameras can be used to find out how many people really do have office sex in the lift, who they are, how they did it, who they did it with, when they last had lunch and so on. They also spot anyone doing the unrevised or silly buggers version of the lift game. And thus while they are said to be installed in the hope to stop this from happening, companies really install them to make profit from the pornography. Where did you think the internet got it from?

However, this may all be stopped by going up or down what is called a staircase, where sex may be had without having to press the 'stop' button. On the other hand, it is marginally less comfortable, and you generally have to do it on the top flight. Be aware that moving about a lot is not a good option. The lift game can not be played on a staircase.


These games are dangerous, and may cause malfunctions which could result in injury. This is hopefully not true in more modern lifts, because they have safety measures in force, but older lifts are weird and strange beasts - they should only be used for the planned version of the game. If you are caught playing the game (any version) and get in trouble, this Researcher, h2g2 and the BBC are not liable in any way at all.

'May the lift be with you', or above, below, and in extreme cases, sideways of you.

1Many lifts have a button to close the doors, or you can just wait for the doors to close automatically.2ie messing about, not taking things seriously.3Janitors are really good to test this one on - almost all have as twisted a sense of humour as you. However, many of them will play the same trick on you the next chance they get.

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