The Circle Game

The Circle Game

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Updated Aug 23, 2020 at 07:05AM EDT by shevyrolet.

Added Apr 01, 2013 at 09:52PM EDT by Efraín.

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The Circle Game is a game of peripheral vision, trickery and motor skills.[1] The game starts out when the Offensive Player creates a circle with their thumb and forefinger somewhere below his waist.[2] The goal is to trick another person into looking at his hand. If the victim looks at the hand, he has lost the game, and is subsequently hit on the bicep with a closed fist, by the offensive player. Online, people have begun hiding hands making the circle symbols in various images to trick people into finding it.


According to Vice,[3] the Circle Game was invented by Ohio resident Matt Nelson in the early 1980s. Nelson claims to have devised the game while in elementary school as a way to punch his friends.

The game was popularized on November 15th, 2000 in the fourth episode of the television sitcom Malcom in the Middle's second season. In the episode, characters play the Circle Game, introducing to the show's millions of viewers.


While the game has been a staple of schoolyard games since the early 80s, it started appearing online in the 2010s. One of the earliest examples of the game online was posted on June 23rd, 2011 by an anonymous 9GAG [5] user who posted a picture of a little girl with her hand in the circle formation with a circle around the hand. The post (shown below) received more than 980 points in six years.

a little girl in a white dress making the circle hand gesture as if she's playing the Circle Game

Over the next half decade, the game continued to be referenced in memes, featuring a host of characters. On November 16th, 2014, the Facebook [6] account LADbible posted the hand information with the comment "Oi mate, is this yours?" The post (shown below, left) received more than 142,000 reactions, 353,000 comments and 32,000 shares in three years.

Two years later, on December 23rd, 2016, Redditor [7] tomytronics posted a version featuring Star Wars' Darth Vader, using a scene from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (shown below, right).

hand doing the upside down ok symbol comic of Darth Vader in Rogue War playing the Circle Game

On November 20th, 2017, the Facebook[8] page MemeTeams posted a zoom in variation that ended with a hand making the finger circle. The post (shown below) received more than 2,600 reactions, 6,100 comments and 9,000 shares.

The photo would later be shared on the /r/MemeEconomy subreddit.[9]

zoom in meme on a picture of a girl lifting her shirt that leads to a hand making the finger circle

Chicago Cubs Fan

On May 7th, 2019, an unidentified man wearing a Chicago Cubs sweatshirt was recorded making the sign behind NBC Sports Chicago reporter Doug Glanville. That evening, Twitter user Chad Rehan tweeted a video from the broadcast, speculating it was a "white supremacy sign" (shown below).

Several hours after the game, the Chicago Cubs president of business operations Crane Kennedy issued a statement about the controversy:

"An individual seated behind Mr. Glanville used what appears to be an offensive hand gesture that is associated with racism. Such ignorant and repulsive behavior is not tolerated at Wrigley Field. We are reviewing the incident thoroughly because no one should be subjected to this type of offensive behavior. Any derogatory conduct should be reported immediately to our ballpark staff. Any individual behaving in this manner will not only be removed from the ballpark but will be permanently banned from Wrigley Field."

On Twitter, many accused the man of making a white power symbol, while others argued he was playing the Circle Game. That evening, the Chicago Sun-Times[10] reported that the fan had been identified and had been subsequently banned from Wrigley Field.

Various Examples

If Glenn wore shorts, would he wear them like this?or this? Why would someone take the "G" out of the BUD LIGHT logo? 5MARCH1 Reebok The Circle Game Completly Offensive 2017 NSW Police Force ALWAYS check your mirrors when driving.

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