Move quickly through a dangerous course, avoiding opponents, or blasting them clear out of the game zone. Always seek the safety of home bases. Complete the basic level and get transformed into a being with the power to eliminate your competitors. Sounds like a new video game, but it’s the classic street game of skully.Skully (a.k.a. skelly, skilsies, skelsies) was one of the most popular street games in the New York City area, and it is still played today, though not as widespread. It is typically played on the street using bottlecaps on a board drawn with chalk. Anywhere from 2 to 6 (or more) players can play. Each neighborhood has its own variations on the rules, but the basic theme is to use your fingers to shoot your piece (a bottlecap, poker chip, or other small item) through the course drawn on the street, then “kill” all the other players, leaving you the winner.
We use the name skully here because we believe it derives from the middle section of the board, called “the skull.” Deadbox, a closely related game found in Philadelphia, PA, actually uses a board with a skull drawn in the middle.
Making and customizing a skully cap is an art unto itself. A number of techniques can be used to create colorful and particularly effective pieces. The skully board itself, its dimensions and variations, may vary from place to place, but the general design is fairly consistent–not unlike variations you see in baseball parks around the nation!
Judging by the popularity of the Streetplay’s skully discsusions and the reactions we’ve gotten at street fairs, we believe that skully has the potential to return to the popularity seen in its heyday. It’s a great game for kids of all ages, so please explore this section, check out the rules, pictures, and stories submitted by Streetplay members. Perhaps we can create a skully revival!