In the same circle of social interaction that brought us Slender Man, the Blue Whale Challenge, and that whole Momo business comes a subreddit called Three Kings. Active for at least six years, the community sees itself as a place to “share our experiences following *any* kind of paranormal recipe or ritual (not just the titular “Three Kings”). We will not attempt to establish what is “true” or “false,” nor to judge anyone’s beliefs, but simply respect and support the people who choose to share their paranormal journeys with us.”
Basically, users post recipes for having paranormal experiences in the privacy of your own home. I’ve written about the Elevator Game, which claims it can send you into another dimension if you survive a young woman that is not what she seems joining you on the fifth floor. Many people who did carry out the ritual described seeing red lights in the horizon beyond the building windows when they disembarked the lift into a different dimension. YouTube also has a large number of people attempting to play the game, but no one actually arrived in a less dark timeline. Which, if I’m being honest, is horribly disappointing.
Right now is not the best timeline to be in, quite frankly, and the thought of punching in a sequence of floors to arrive at a new destination without the problems occurring right now enveloping every facet of life sounds tempting. Of course, Three Kings is much older than our current problems, prompting a look at why exactly it was created and how it was able to amass such a large collection of steps to communicate with the dead, the demonic, and the other-worldly. Sure, most of the games are familiar to any of those that had sleepovers or turned off the light in their bathroom to chant “Bloody Mary” in the mirror in hopes of seeing a phantom materialize in the mirror in front of us. Others are more complicated, gruesome, escapist, or all three.
Daruma San takes players through the steps needed to summon a Japanese girl that fell and impaled her eye on a rusty faucet tap in the bath. If it works, Daruma San will follow her summoner in an attempt to catch them and do something likely torturous and evil to them. Players are able to end the game by making a chopping motion with their hand and yelling “Kitta” at the entity, but the point of the game is to evade Daruma San for as long as possible. But why? Other recipes claim they will summon entities of varying ranges of morality and safety to answer any questions the player may have. These make more sense to a point, but the danger of being the person that finally proves the supernatural is real isn’t really worth finding out winning lottery numbers. I suppose that Three Kings exists for the same reason people throw salt over their shoulder, cross themselves, or engage in daily routines: the illusion of control.
It sounds counter-intuitive to summon something like Daruma San and then call it taking control of a situation, but that’s what it is. People are taking part in elaborate rituals in an attempt to control an entity, change their life, or simply prove their bravery to themselves or others. They are in charge of the amount of danger that they are in with these recipes and they make the choice of when to stop the summoning. It’s knocking on the door of the weird house in the neighborhood and then running away before anyone can answer. Like most things since the inception of the internet, it isn’t something new but it is reformed. Much like the new legends I mentioned earlier, new tests of boundaries and fodder for harmless teenage rebellion has moved from whispered stories shared between classes and into written collections of “proof” and experience. The danger-tinged dares haven’t changed as much as they’ve evolved, fastening themselves to a medium able to spread them further than we ever thought possible.
And why not? There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a bit of the macabre or faux danger — especially when it allows a connection to a wider range of people that enjoy doing the same.