The whispered “gotcha” might shoot a spike of terror up your spine. Throughout the spring, many shrieks and screams have reverberated throughout the halls and fields on campus.
Gotcha is a campus-wide game that enters every student into an allegedly random computerized system, although some students might disagree about the “randomness” of the pairings. After all, over the years, ex-boyfriends have been matched with ex-girlfriends, best friends with other best friends, and sisters with brothers.
The rules are as follows: students are assigned a target that they must “get,” or eliminate, from the game. Students must eliminate their target within six days; Sunday is a rest day. If students do not get their person out within the six days, they are automatically taken out of the running for the remainder of the game.
When “getting” a person, the student must whisper, ‘gotcha,’ in their target’s ear. If anyone around hears the student say, “gotcha,” it does not count, and the person must plot another scheme to ensure their survival. As this continues, there are two survivors, and these students are crowned king or queen of Gotcha.
It takes swift cunning to make it to the top ranks, so over the weeks students have created various strategies of attack.
Andrew Peck ’18, one of the student organizers of Gotcha this year, said, “Best strategy I’ve seen is when people take other people’s headphones out from behind them and whisper ‘gotcha’ in their ear. So swag.”
Indeed, in an attempt to block out the sound of any possible voices, some students take to plugging in earbuds. Other students may frantically latch on to anyone walking in the same direction as them, while the ambitious few take to living in a constant state of paranoia and deep mistrust of others, including close friends, for the duration of the game.
Samara Cummings ’20, one of the top five survivors left in the game, said, “I people-hopped often even if I didn’t know them, and I usually never went anywhere without someone.”
She continued, “Once I was running down the hall to go talk to my friend right after chemistry class. I started hearing fast footsteps behind me and I realized my Gotcha person was running after me. So I got to the nearest person and told them to listen.”
For people advancing to their third and fourth weeks, it is easy to get too wrapped up and forget that Gotcha is only a game. Some people devote hours out of their busy weekdays to chase down their targets, going so far as to stalk outside of students’ classrooms. While Gotcha is stressful, it is important to remember that it remains just a game to spice up the final weeks of spring on campus.
During the past couple weeks, the game has served as a conversation-starter, a beginning to fragile alliances, and even a defiant challenger to friendships, as friends compete against friends.
With the last “gotcha” said and done, it’s time to say adieu and meet again next year.