Take an Interdimensional Ride with Japan and Korea’s Terrifying Elevator Game
We all know at least one urban legend. Bloody Mary, the Jersey Devil, Hookman, Robert Johnson selling his soul to the Devil, Krampus, Mothman, Owlman… and countless other legends of folklore that come from cultures all around the world. With the birth of the internet came an entirely new type of ‘friend of a friend’ storytelling called Creepypastas. Unlike urban legends being passed around by word of mouth, creepypastas are passed around the internet primarily on 4chan, Reddit, and communities dedicated to archiving these stories. They’re typically not too long and are written anonymously or under a screenname. The aim of a Creepypasta is to be as disturbing and unsettling as possible and many of these stories more than succeed in their goal. Creepypastas remained a relatively ‘online’ phenomenon until the Slender Man stabbing in 2014 which brought mainstream attention to the little known world of Creepypastas for the first time.
A subgenre of Creepypastas are called ‘ritual games’. These games, typically meant for summoning or dimension traveling, are passed around in the same way as regular Creepypastas. They usually include step-by-step guides for completing the ritual as well as a plethora of warnings to increase the scare factor. They’re basically a 21st century version of Bloody Mary.
The Elevator Game is a popular example of a ‘ritual game’. The goal of the game is to reach the Otherworld via an elevator that has access to at least 10 floors. The game has been around for quite some time, with the oldest know version posted on the controversial Japanese community website 2ch in 2008. An episode of the Japanese anime Galaxy Express 999 called ‘The Four-Dimensional Elevator‘ that aired in 1980 shows that the concept of interdimensional travel via elevators was already a plot point in Japan long before the game found its way onto 2ch. From 2ch, the Elevator Game was translated into Korean and posted onto the Korean online community 스레딕. In Korean, the game is often referred to online as ‘다른 세계로 가는 방법’ (or, ‘how to go to another world’) and is typically listed as part of a series of similar games. These games include ways of visiting another dimension via a restroom, a stairway, as well as a second elevator game that involves a mouth full of saltwater. The version outlined below, the ‘original elevator game’, is the most popular online.
A hallmark of nearly all ritual games online are excessive warnings telling the reader to not under ANY circumstance play the game. So in keeping with this: please think twice before attempting the Elevator Game, I’d hate to be responsible for your disappearance into another dimension — I can’t afford the lawyers for that.
How to Play the Elevator Game
There are many different write-ups online outlining the ‘correct way’ to play the Elevator Game. And while some may differ slightly, they all follow the same format and involve the same sequence of numbers. Before you begin, locate a building that’s at least 10 stories high. Go to the elevator by yourself or, according to some sources, you may be accompanied by a group of friends. However, if any members of your group want to quit at any point during the game, their actions will affect all the players in the elevator.
The game requires nothing else, no props or incantations. It is however crucial that the instructions are followed exactly. The push of the wrong button at the wrong time might have unknown consequences. So if you have your elevator selected and you’re ready to play, follow this step by step guide to take an elevator ride to another dimension.
Ascending to the Otherworld
- Enter the elevator.
- Visit the following floors in this sequence: 4-2-6-2-10-5
- When the doors open on the 5TH FLOOR, The Woman will enter the elevator. Under no circumstance should you look at or speak with her. She will try to get you to speak in a variety of ways, she might also impersonate someone you know. Pretend she isn’t there. Stare at the floor or close your eyes. Do whatever you have to do. She isn’t human.
- Press the button for the 1ST FLOOR. This is a crucial moment in the game. If the elevator proceeds to the 1ST FLOOR, you must exit immediately. Something with the ritual has gone wrong. Do not look behind you. Do not engage with The Woman. Leave the building. Don’t look back. Go home. You should be safe.
- If the elevator starts to go UP to the 10TH FLOOR instead of DOWN to the 1ST FLOOR, congratulations! You’ve been granted access into the Otherworld. You’re now presented with two options:
Option 1: The doors open at the 10TH FLOOR, you take one look into the unsettling new world and decide “I’d rather be literally anywhere but here”. Good news — you are allowed to leave at this point. Proceed to step 6. Or,
Option 2: The doors open at the 10TH FLOOR, you take one look out into the unsettling new world and decide “I can’t wait to explore this terrifying and unsafe environment”. Good news — you are allowed to explore! If you’re keen to take a brief tour of what may or may not be Hell, go to Step 7.
- If you decide to leave the building without exploring the Otherworld stay in the elevator and press the button for the 1ST FLOOR. It might not work right away, so keep pressing it until the doors close and the elevator begins its descent. Continue to ignore The Woman if she is still with you in the elevator. Once the elevator reaches the first floor, exit immediately. Do not exit on any other floors. If anyone else gets on the elevator, ignore them. Do not talk to them. Do not look at them. Don’t look back. Go home. You should be safe.
- If you decide to stay in the Otherworld, The Woman may make one final attempt to engage with you before you exit the elevator. At this point she might raise her voice, scream, and be more aggressive than before. Do not look at her. Do not talk to her. Exit the elevator and let the door close behind you.
Exploring the Otherworld and Returning Home
According to the legend, you will know you’ve arrived in the Otherworld since its completely void of any humans other than yourself. Sometimes a glowing red cross will be visible at the other end of the dark hallway, and other ‘reports’ say that the outside world is a blazing red colour which makes the light coming through the windows the colour of blood. The Otherworld is incredibly dark, but is otherwise visually the same as our current world. There is a risk of passing out in the Otherworld and waking up in what you think is your bed at home. In reality, you’re still in the Otherworld and you’re probably trapped there forever.
Once you enter the Otherworld it’s important to remember which elevator you came out of, especially if you’re in a larger buildings with multiple elevators. It’s very easy to get disoriented in the Otherworld, so try your hardest to remember how you got there. If you take the wrong elevator the return sequence will not work and you’ll be trapped.
When you’re ready to leave, complete the following steps:
- Enter the correct elevator.
- Press the following floors in their correct sequence: 4-2-6-2-10-5-1
- When you push the button for the 1ST FLOOR at the end of sequence, the elevator might start going up to the 10TH FLOOR again. Stop it before it reaches the 10TH FLOOR by pressing either the 6TH, 7TH, or 8TH FLOOR until it starts to go back down again.
- Once you begin to descend, press the 1ST FLOOR button again.
- When you read the 1ST FLOOR do not step out of the elevator until you’ve checked to make sure everything appears to be back to normal. If something is even slightly off it means you’re still in the Otherworld. Repeat the number sequence again until everything appears to have gone back to normal.
Congratulations, you travelled to another dimension and made it home safely. You are safe… right?
Some Notes for an Optimal (and nonlethal) experience
- It’s probably ideal to play this at night since the game terminates if anyone other than the woman on the fifth floor comes into your elevator. So playing it in a lively apartment complex at 8am on a workday is likely a poor choice.
- Electronics allegedly don’t work in the Otherworld, so don’t plan on bringing any footage back with you.
- Because of this, it’s probably best to write the number sequence on your hand… just in case (4-2-6-2-10-5-1). Messing up the return sequence (especially if you’re in the wrong elevator) has unknown consequences.
- Don’t look or talk to The Woman. Just in case that hasn’t been made clear.
- And if you’re playing with friends and one of you is incredibly terrified before even entering the elevator, you might want to leave them behind because they’re definitely going to be the one to mess up and look at Her.
- You know the ‘crazy person’ in horror films that experiences the phenomenon before everyone else? And no one believes them? If this ritual works than that’s going to be you. Maybe keep your interdimensional travel to yourself.
Remember the Real World when you’re trying to get to the Otherworld
This game is obviously just for fun
I think, but please remember that your actions during the game can have consequences in the real world — but not in the ways you might be thinking. Consider if you’re causing an inconvenience for other people and under no circumstance is it acceptable to trespass for the sake of the game. Explaining to a security guard that you’re pushing a bunch of buttons in the elevator because you’re performing a ritual you read about online isn’t going to turn out well. And as scary as ghosts and demons are, someone trying to get home at 3am after a thankless 12-hour-shift only to find you messing around with their elevator is going to be much scarier. There’s also the fact that you’ll be needlessly wasting a ton of electricity. So this game is probably best left for reading about online, and there are no shortage of stories on Reddit’s r/nosleep to keep you busy.
But if you’re too scared to try the elevator game anyways (or too nervous about pissing off your neighbours), there’s currently a film being made about the game so you can watch someone else play from the comfort of home. Creatively titled The Elevator Game, the film will follow a teenager who searches for his missing sister after she disappears playing the game. Though I don’t personally have high hopes for the film, I love potentially terrible horror movies so I’ll be waiting with anticipation for it to be released. If anything, we might get a creative representation of the Otherworld since that part of the legend is begging to be expanded upon.
In the meantime sleep tight and beware of internet games that send you to another dimension without any real promise of bringing you back.
Want to read more about creepy ritual games? Check out the Curious Archive post on the origins of Bloody Mary!
Sources and Additional Reading
Bloody Disgusting – ‘The Elevator Game’ Sends Cast to Another Dimension
Creepypasta – The Elevator Game
Namu Wiki – 다른 세계에 가는 방법 (ENG: How to get to another world)
Ranker – Some Believe the ‘Elevator Game’ Could Send Them to Another Dimension