The Charlie Charlie challenge is a modern incarnation of the Spanish paper-and-pencil game called Juego de la Lapicera (Pencil Game). Like a Magic 8-Ball, the game is played by teenagers using held or balanced pencils to produce answers to questions they ask. Teenage girls have played Juego de la Lapicera for generations in Spain and Hispanic America, asking which boys in their class like them.
Originally described on the Internet in 2008, the game was popularized in the English-speaking world in 2015, partly through the hashtag #CharlieCharlieChallenge. On 29 April 2015, an alarmist tabloid television newscast about the game being played in Hato Mayor Province of the Dominican Republic was uploaded to YouTube, and the unintentional humor in the report led to the game trending on Twitter, crossing the language barrier to be played around the world.
In an early version of the game, two players each hold two pencils in the shape of a square, pressing the ends of their pencils against the other player’s. Like a Ouija board, it uses the ideomotor phenomenon, with players moving the pencils without conscious control. The two pencil game involves crossing two pens or pencils to create a grid (with sectors labelled “yes” and “no”) and then asking questions to a “supernatural entity” named “Charlie.” The upper pencil is then expected to rotate diagonally to either the “yes” or the “no” option.
The pencil game re-emerged again in January 2021 as in some parts of Africa, people didn’t believe the pencil would rotate but to their surprise the pencil really rotated. It then started trending on twitter. Everyone was trying some to see if it was true.