Mr. Smith

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Mr. Smith
Designer: Yao Song Ng
Year: unknown
Players: 10 to 40
Stuff required: One facemask per actor; tokens; schedules; possibly maps.
Crew required: One
Preparation: 10 minutes.
Time required: Half an hour, to an hour.
Place required: A large outdoors area.
Activities: Running, finding, chasing.
This is a playable game - it's finished, tested and ready to play.
This game is made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)

A chase game, where the target is able to teleport great distances around the city.


The game needs a large playing area, with lots of walls and blocked lines of sight. It's designed for a large urban area (a square of streets roughly 500m along each side), but can be scaled up or down for the number of players, and would work in a suitably large building.

You also need a number of actors to play "Mr Smith"; ideally one actor for every ten minutes that the game is run, although if pushed for volunteers you can double up and reuse the actors two or three times.

Divide the playing time into five or ten minute slots, and assign each slot to one of your actors - they will be playing Mr Smith during this time period. Give them handouts to remind them. Make sure they all have a watch, or a mobile phone with a clock.

Prepare some scoring tokens for the Mr Smiths to hand over to players; each Mr Smith should have about half as many tokens as there are players. (If you're doubling up, give each actor multiple sets of tokens, instructing them to only use each set during a specific time slot.)

Unless the playing area can be easily described by referencing a few local landmarks, print out some maps showing the boundaries, and hand them out to players and actors. The Mr Smith actors will not be allowed to leave these boundaries, while they're wearing the mask.

Give each actor their mask, tokens and schedule, and send them out into the city.


The players all start in the same place, and must find and pursue Mr Smith - a mysterious character who can be identified by the mask he wears. If the players find him, they can run up and "tag" him - he will give them a token, in return. At the end of the game, the player with the most tokens is the winner.

When the game begins, whichever actor was assigned the first slot puts their mask on, and starts to wander around the playing area. It's up to the actor how they react to the environment and to the players - they can run, hide, taunt from the distance, or do whatever they like, so long as they keep the mask on and remain within the physical game boundaries.

When a Mr Smith reaches the end of his assigned time slot, he removes his mask, signifying the "teleport". Around the same time, somewhere else in the city, the next actor will be putting a Mr Smith mask on...

Bad Smith variant

When the game ran at the Barbican, a "Bad Smith" character was added. Players were told that there was a Bad Smith out there, a figure in a red mask who would chase the players, and would steal one ribbon from any player that he caught. One of the actors was given a red mask to wear for one of the five-minute slots. (If you're doubling up, you can give some actors one white and one red mask. This also discourages players from openly tailing an actor waiting for them to put a white mask back on.)

Play history

Mr. Smith was first played at Sandpit #7, in October 2008, on the dark streets of Soho. It ran again at the Barbican in March 2009, for Sandpit #9, with the addition of a "Bad Smith", and was played again with 70 players in and around Royal Festival Hall for the 2009 Hide&Seek Weekender.