Everything you need to know about Senior Assassin


Gavin Kane

With some students waking up as early as 5:30 in the morning to eliminate their targets, Senior Assassin is clearly a competitive game.

Imagine it’s 8:00 p.m. on a Friday night. You and your family are sitting in your living room watching a movie. You look out your window and you see a figure creeping through your lawn. For many, the police would instantly be called; however, for someone playing Senior Assassin, this would mean that their opponent was trying to eliminate them.

In the month of May, most of the seniors at Malvern Prep gather to play Senior Assassin, a game that is based off squirting an opponent with a water gun, to make some final lasting memories as seniors.

“So at the beginning everyone gets a target, you have a certain amount of time to get your target,” senior Tim McLaughlin said. “You’re not allowed to get them on campus or when they are in their car, or when they are in their house, unless someone who lives in the house lets you in.”

The goal of the game is to squirt your target with a water gun, or “eliminate your target.”

“You have to get them with a water gun, and get a video, or a picture, or someone has to be there to witness it,” McLaughlin said.

Getting squirted by another senior isn’t the only way to be eliminated. If a senior doesn’t eliminate their target within the time limit, they are automatically eliminated from the game. Tim first-hand experienced the time limit rule when he was eliminated from the game.

“I didn’t get out by the guy who had me, I got out because I didn’t eliminate my target within the time limit,” McLaughlin said.

Senior Assassin players took heavy precautions in effort to not get out by the person that was supposed to eliminate them.

“So in the mornings before I went out to my car, I had my little brothers look around and make sure no one was hiding,” McLaughlin said. “There were a bunch of people who would drive to their target’s house and get them while they walked to their cars.”

About two-thirds of the senior class played Senior Assassin this year, so McLaughlin had to be on the lookout for most of his peers trying to eliminate him.

“I think only about 80 kids signed up [for Senior Assassin], and there is about 120 kids in our class,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin pointed out a few crazy stories from this year’s game of Senior Assassin.

“I’m not gonna use names, but I know one kid who drove over a curb to escape their assassin because they had their car blocked in in a parking lot,” McLaughlin said. “This person drove over the curb down a little hill and into another parking lot to get away.”

Upper School Dean of Students Tim Dougherty has been around the Senior Assassin game for awhile now. Dougherty has been able to see many classes play the game over the past years.

“It has been a while [since the game has been played at Malvern],” Dougherty said. “I think different years, there have been different popularities of it.”

Dougherty noted how each senior class that has played this game has been unique about it.

“Sometimes classes are more quiet about it than others,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty pointed out that different schools have different rules for the games due to an experience he had in early May.

“I only know different schools have different rules because some girls were on campus maybe a month ago, maybe they were here for either the matinee, musical, or the play and they had water guns,” Dougherty said. “They were polite. I said ‘excuse me, you better take those to your car,’ and they said ‘Oh, our school rules say that you can do it at other schools,’ and I told her politely, ‘Well my school rules say that you better put your water gun in your car.’”

Being around for a long time as a teacher and Dean of Students, Dougherty has seen it all. He mentioned something that happened to a non-Malvern student that involved the game Senior Assassin and a run in with the police.

“A couple years ago, the [police] chief called and told us a story about a kid from Great Valley or Tredyffrin-East who was trying to shoot his target with his water gun and was outside someone’s window in their bushes,” Dougherty said. “The neighbor called the police and it was dark so the police came and they were yelling around the corner and the student didn’t believe them that they were the police, and they ended up pulling their guns on him.”

Brother of Tim McLaughlin, freshman Brendan McLaughlin was highly involved in his brother’s game. He did everything that he could to help his brother win.

“One time these two seniors came up to me and asked me for our garage code. They also were trying to bribe me with Wawa for me to let them into our house,” McLaughlin said.

Brendan felt really confident in his brother and thought that he was going to place well within the game.

“I was feeling pretty good about it because Tim was playing very safe and I would check around our house every time before we would get out of the car when we got home,” he said. “He would rarely go outside and would lock his basement door too.”

The entire McLaughlin family was involved in Tim’s game, and sometimes, they weren’t too happy about it.

“They were not too invested in it. They just kind of let it happen. Although they did get annoyed sometimes because they would go ask him to bring the trashcan up or something like that and he would say, ‘No it’s too risky,’ which I don’t blame him for,” Brendan said.

McLaughlin was very excited to see the game play out, and he is excited to play it when he is a senior.

“I was really excited to see how the game played out and how my brother did. It seems like a really fun experience,” Brendan said.

Brendan pointed out how he noticed a stronger bond between some of the seniors through Senior Assassin.

“The game’s a real test of who you can trust and who to look out for. I feel like the game brought people together to work towards the common goal, which definitely strengthened the seniors’ bonds,” McLaughlin said.