Skelsies, deadbox, bottlecaps... what's in a name?
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
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
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!