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Over 23% Think This Was The Most Disturbing Game In Squid Game

The word "disturbing" might be the best way to describe Hwang Dong-hyuk's 2021 dystopian series "Squid Game," because it applies to so many of the show's brutal and unflinching qualities. Think about the class commentary. The depiction of addiction and poverty — and the consequences of both. The power struggles that surface in a group of desperate people. The unsettling alliances. The scheming. The greed. It's all — in a word — disturbing. 

And that's not even taking into account the blood and guts (even when it comes to non-players). The foundation of "Squid Game" is, of course, the games in which the characters compete with each other. And each of those games has its own lovely brand of pain, fear, and trauma.

You've got Red Light, Green Light, where violators are slaughtered by a giant murder robot. Then, there's the sugar honeycomb game, where you're shot to death if you crack your dessert cookie in the wrong way. Tug of War, in which the losing team is pulled to their deaths off the edge of a catwalk. There's the game of Marbles, in which losing your marbles earns you a bullet in the head. Hopscotch on a brittle glass bridge, suspended hundreds of feet in the air. Finally, it ends in the eponymous Squid Game, where the surviving players separate into defense and offense before they engage in a final fight to the death. But which game is the most upsetting? 

To answer that question, Looper asked nearly 600 people to choose the most gut-wrenchingly disturbing contest in "Squid Game," and the results are in.

The first game was the worst

Yup. According to our survey results, 23.66% of respondents thought the show's inaugural game — Red Light, Green Light — was the most disturbing. And honestly, in a story built on squirm-inducing situations, this absolutely had to be at the top.

Put yourself in the shoes of a "Squid Game" contestant for a moment. You're broke. You're desperate. Some guy in a subway station slaps you a few times and promises an opportunity for a better life. Then you're kidnapped, smuggled to a mysterious island, surrounded by masked men with automatic weaponry, frightened for your life, only to discover... you're playing children's games. It's like grade school P.E. class all over again. A friendly voice intercoms in to explain the rules of Red Light, Green Light. The game begins. There's an adorable doll 100 yards from you, and suddenly, it turns away. A voice says, "Green light." You move forward with palpable relief, smiling — maybe laughing — as the voice says, "Red light," and the doll's head rotates back to face you. You freeze, still smiling, until a bullet rips through another contestant's head and the blood splatter speckles your face.

Here's what makes this extra disturbing: it's your first exposure to the contest's real life-or-death stakes. Your fight or flight response is immediately engaged but there's nothing to fight, and running away means you're about to be buffeted by gunfire. And that's exactly what happens to 255 of the game's 456 players — by far the highest death toll of any game in the whole show.

Second place was a close race between Marbles, Tug of War, and Squid Game

Red Light, Green Light was a pretty definitive winner for "most disturbing" — it had a four-and-a-half point lead on second place. But the race for second place wasn't quite as cut-and-dry. Marbles (19.3%) edged out Squid Game (18.46%), which narrowly beat Tug of War (18.29%). The sugar honeycomb game (11.74%) and the glass bridge (8.56%) rounded out the two last places.

Marbles was an interesting runner-up, because it was arguably the least violent game any of the contestants engaged in. Sure, losers got shot in the head. But relative to getting your body riddled with ammunition, getting pulled off a catwalk to your death, being knifed to death by close friends, or falling a few hundred feet through glass ... a bullet to the head sounds downright humane. On the other hand, marbles was arguably the most psychologically traumatizing, because of the gamesmanship required to win. Unlike Red Light, Green Light, sugar honeycomb, and the glass bridge (in which contestants competed against the environment) and Tug of War (in which one team competed against an opposing team), marbles required contestants to look each other in the eye as they outwitted, outplayed, and betrayed each other. And it led to some of the most heartbreaking — and dare we say disturbing — moments in the entire season.