Senior Assassins is the game that has authorities and schools on edge

Senior Assassins is a game American teens have played for years, but it is copping renewed criticism in the US.

Senior Assassins is a game American teens have played for years, but it is copping renewed criticism in the US. Photo: TikTok

Police across the US are warning students not to partake in Senior Assassins, a tradition that pre-dates the internet but is causing concern in the social media era.

Senior Assassins is a game played among high school and college students where people are shot with either toy Nerf, paintball or water guns.

There seems to be several variations of the game and in some cases, anyone wanting to play is randomly assigned their “target” in secret and they must find them and “assassinate” them.


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♬ Suspense, horror, piano and music box – takaya

In another variation, people play in teams of four, two boys and two girls.

In some cases, wearing goggles or floaties provide “immunity” except on “purge days”.

Another component of the game seems to be that the “kills” need to be caught on video as evidence.

In some cases, “assassins” will share their location with others, which makes for easier hunting.

Although the concept of a never-ending game of tag seems fun online, the nature of the game is controversial given America’s gun violence problem.


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In fact, in the aftermath of the Columbine High School massacre, some schools were discouraged from playing the game.

At one school in Massachusetts, students still played the game in 1999, but called it “The Big Game” or “Senior Squirt” out of respect for the victims, The Sun Chronicle reported.

Videos of young adults playing Senior Assassins on social media date back a few years, as the sheer chaos of the game and the sneaky kills do make for good content.

However, this year, authorities around the US are urging participants to be responsible when playing, or in some cases schools have told students they will be suspended if they decide to play.



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Schools, police issue warnings

The Town of Manlius Police Department in the state of New York last week made a social media post sharing some safety tips for those taking part in Senior Assassins.

The police said while the game is “harmless” it can “become dangerous if not played responsibly” and urged parents to speak with their children about the game.

Students were reminded not to trespass on other people’s property when playing the game, avoid wearing masks and be wary when playing after dark.

Nerf Guns and water pistols look like toys most of the time, thanks to their bright colours, but there are other toy guns that can look like actual firearms, which can cause problems.

In Virginia, principals from two schools stressed that Senior Assassins is not only a security risk, but can “normalise gun violence”, local TV station WRC-TV reported.

The principals also raised concerns of toy guns being mistaken for actual guns, especially in “stressful or high-pressure situations”.


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♬ original sound – Tiny Sparks

“This confusion can lead to misidentification and potentially tragic consequences,” they said.

According to USA Today, one school in Florida has said it will be suspending students who play Senior Assassins this year.

Senior Assassins could ‘get someone killed’

In a joint media release from the police and sheriff department in Cheboygan County, Michigan last month, Chief Scott Rifenberg warned there were “no rules” in the game, before detailing some alleged incidents.

One student allegedly broke into another student’s home to shoot his opponent with a paintball gun, which frightened his parents.

Another student caused alarm by wearing camouflage and by holding a “long gun”, which was actually a water gun, while walking through a neighbourhood.

In another alleged incident, a licensed gun owner intervened when several students entered a restaurant wearing ski masks.

This is very dangerous and eventually the police will be called,” Sheriff Tim Cook said. 

“This could get someone hurt or killed if another individual believes a person’s life is being threatened and takes action on their own believing they are witnessing some sort of assault with a deadly weapon as some of these toy guns have the appearance of a real firearm.”

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