Trending water gun live action game is soaking targets in Winnipeg

A live action game water gun that continues to gain steam on social media has caught the attention of everyone from high school students to law enforcement in Winnipeg. 

In the game, commonly known as Senior Assassin, participants are assigned a “target” who they have to track down and “eliminate” using a water gun.

These days, some people are playing through the app Splashin, which adds a wrinkle by allowing players to see the location of their “target” and interact with others in their game in real time. 

“It’s a fun game, we’re in high school, this is our last time being together,” said Abel Menasie, a Grade 12 student at Ecole Sturgeon Heights Collegiate.

“I think it’s really fun, all my friends think it’s really fun.” 

A person with a backpack on.
Abel Menasie said he’s been playing the game for a few weeks. (Randall McKenzie/CBC )

Grade 12 students from Sturgeon Heights playing the game have a list of boundaries, including all school property being off limits along with sports games, practices and buses, a post from an Instagram account promoting the game said. 

Businesses and workplaces are also off limits, and participants can’t be eliminated when they’re working. But they can eliminate people in their work parking lots. 

The post also said the game is supposed to be fun and to not do “anything stupid” that would get anyone in trouble. The school has no involvement or affiliation with the game, whose origin is unclear. 

Winnipeg police aware of trend 

Splashin has over 50,000 followers on Instagram and more than 60,000 on TikTok. Both platforms also have user-submitted videos, which have helped the game turn into a trend.

And that trend has caught the attention of the Winnipeg Police Service, spokesperson Const. Claude Chancy said in an email to CBC News Wednesday. 

Chancy said officers were called to a report of a male with a firearm in a parking lot near Fermor Avenue and St. Mary’s Road around 2:30 p.m Wednesday. However, when officers arrived, they determined multiple kids were just playing with multi-coloured water guns, he said in the email.

There was never a threat to public safety and no real firearms were involved, but a business adjacent to the parking lot was temporarily put on lockdown as a precaution and a nearby school was notified about the incident. 

The young people were playing the assassin game at the time, Chancy said. 

Chancy said in the email “all ‘gun’ calls real or perceived, elicit a heightened police response and are investigated. The social media trend can also add unnecessary strain on police resources as units are dispatched away from legitimate calls for service.” 

The Senior Assassin concept isn’t exactly new, and in 1982 Steve Jackson put out Killer: The Game of Assination. However, the Splashin app and the age of social media has helped amplify the competitive water gun fights. 

Users on the app sign up to create an account, and a game administrator makes a code for people to join. Players are assigned a random target within the game and can view their location. 

Players also can’t just join any game or see any player in their area either. They have to be given a group code, and the players from Sturgeon Heights have underscored the importance of not sharing it.

Additionally, according to the app’s FAQ page, when the in-app map is enabled, players are able to view the location of their assigned target. But users with a premium account can view the locations of others on the map, the FAQ said. 

Location-sharing deters some

During a “purge” situation, players can eliminate anyone in the game including their assigned target, and the locations of all players in the game will be shown, even if they don’t have premium, according to the FAQ. 

The location-sharing aspect of the game deterred some from participating. 

“I don’t really want people that I don’t know knowing where I live … showing up at my house or place of work,” said Grade 12 student Matthew Howey. 

But Howey also said some people he knows and their parents have been receptive to the game. 

“The parents are in on it actually,” he said. “They allow people to go into the house and wait for them to go inside to their room or whatever.” 

A person in a grey hoodie.
Matthew Howey decided not to play the game because of its location sharing features. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

Meanwhile, as exams roll around and things start to quiet down, Menasie said he’ll look back fondly on the memories made with friends.  

“We’re all having fun,” he said.