“Marker Tag” Claims First Victims

Ahnsa Campbell and Catie Graves

As the second semester begins, so does the infamous game of Senior Assassins. LASA Seniors all over Austin lurk around corners and wait, unbeknownst to their victims, with the intent to “kill” their targets by tagging them with a marker. The players wait for the right moment to strike and move closer to winning the cash prize.
High schools around Austin, including LASA, participate in the student-run game called Senior Assassins. The game at LASA, however, is played within its senior class population. Seniors sign up and each contributes $10 towards the final prize. Every person who signs up is assigned another player to “assassinate” or tag out, and they must find them, mark them and confirm their “kill” with a picture that is posted on the game’s Instagram account. There are many other rules, some of which are added later in the game to accommodate special circumstances.
There is a lot of work that goes on confidentially to organize the game, according to senior game managers Bela McScoggin and Eli Hanser-Young. McScoggin and Hanser-Young are the only people in the entire senior class who know all of what goes on behind the scenes.
“Everyone else is not supposed to know,” Hanser-Young said. “We kind of just keep everyone informed.”
All of the rules for the game were decided by senior class president Sofia Moore. She decided that she wanted to play, so she made the rules and then handed over the managerial role to Hanser-Young and McScoggin.
“I divvied up the responsibilities,” Moore said. “It took me two weeks to decide all the rules, there’s a lot of controversy between whether or not we were using Nerf Guns, or water guns or Sharpies.”
The basic rules involve being assigned a person to eliminate and having a person assigned to target you. If a player fails to eliminate their target within the first two weeks, they are placed on a “bounty list”, and anyone in the game who has already succeeded in getting their original target can come after them until they mark their original target.
“Basically everyone signs up and we put them into a circle,” Hanser-Young said. “It’s a big list that loops around. They’re assigned a person that they have to go out and tag with a marker, and then someone is assigned them. They have no idea who’s coming after them, but they know who they’re going after.”
As a reward, the winners receive profits from the original entry fees. The remainder is used for administrative fees for the game.
“Each person puts in $10 so the prize will wind up being around $1000 to the winner,” McScoggin said.
Senior Walker Kholer has already tagged out 12 players. Although the prize is one of the motivations for playing, Kohler said that the entertainment of the game is the biggest attraction.
“I’d always heard about it from the grades above [me] playing it,” Kohler said. “It seemed very interesting, and most seniors are already into a college, so this semester is just passing time for the most part. It’s a very fun activity.”
According to Moore, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding Senior Assassins and players get very involved in the game. She said that players find elaborate ways to find their targets outside of class and go to great lengths to avoid getting eliminated.
“Everyone gets so into it, an insane amount [of people],” Moore said. “I do really enjoy the energy that it gives off.”
In 2017, the Austin Independent School District (AISD) ordered all principals to ban any form of the Assassins game to occur on campus due to education and security concerns. Such restrictions occurred after AISD learned that LASA students were playing the game on campus and during school hours. In order to comply with the AISD policy, the game is no longer played on-campus and is not sponsored by the administration.
Despite the controversy from past years, about 180 seniors signed up this year. The game will continue until only one person is left standing.
“I think it’s too early to say I can win, but I’m trying not to do anything stupid to get myself out,” Kohler said. “I don’t know how long the game will last though. I think the game will be over in a month or so maybe.”
According to senior Carly Atwell, Senior Assassins has brought the senior class together. Even though the game is all about watching your own back, she said the game still connected friends and fellow classmates.
“I feel like a lot of us got to know each other better and talk to each other more,” Atwell said. “We would have to talk to people we didn’t know to get and give information.”
Atwell was tagged out early in the game by her fellow ultimate frisbee captain, senior Sean Hall. She said that although she was upset she wasn’t able to play the game anymore, she got over it in a couple of days and said that there was no lasting damage.
“It might have broken friendships or there might have been some damage of trust in my case, but it brought people together against others,” Atwell said. “You have to reach out to new people in order to really make the best of your game, and you have to push yourself to be more social.”