Global Gaming Project: Thailand’s version of Dead or Alive features less cleavage, more fermented fish.

We love games of all shapes and sizes, and guess what? So does the rest the world. This is part of a larger project to document a homegrown game from every country in the world.

If you’ve enjoyed Thai food there’s a good chance you’ve smelled fish sauce, shrimp paste, or some variation thereupon. Fish sauce in particular – a signature ingredient in many Lao and Thai dishes – is derivative of badek. For several friends and I, it became agame of sorts to see which guests would try it.

What is badek? It’s fermented fish. As with most cuisine, there are myriad ways to prepare it, but the simplest way is to toss several fish in a large jar and let them pickle for a few months, then boil them. Or not. Everyone has a preference.
Thai kids have a game about dead fish, too. Think of it as Blind Man’s Bluff with a twist.

NAME: Phong Phang (Dead or Alive?)
PLAYERS: 5 or more

1. Draw lots to decide who is the “fish”. Blindfold the fish and turn him around severaltimes.
2. The rest of the players hold hands and circle around the fish while singing thefollowing (roughly translated):

Catch me if you can.
Here comes the fish.
The fish is blind.
Catch me, dead or living.
Little fish, are you alive or dead?

3. The fish can answer “Dead!” or “Alive!”
4. On “Dead” everyone runs away from the fish, who then has to catch someone, whowill become the fish on the next round.
5. On “Alive” all players must freeze in place. The fish has to catch someone and guesstheir name: if the fish guesses correctly, the caught person becomes the next fish. If thefish guesses wrong, he must go back to the center, the players unfreeze, and the gamerestarts.

–Josiah Harrist

Image: IIpo Torn