What is Planking? How Did it Start? What so Special?

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The lying down game (also known as planking,[1] or face downs) is an activity, popular in various parts of the world, consisting of lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location. The hands must touch the sides of the body, and having a photograph of the participant taken and posted on the Internet is an integral part of the game.[2] Players compete to find the most unusual and original location in which to play.[2] The location should also be as public as possible, and as many people as possible should be involved.[3

The lying down game is claimed to have been invented by Gary Clarkson and Christian Langdon in 1997[4] It first became popular in North East England,[5] then all of Britain by the summer of 2009 [6] reaching the point by late 2010 where it was described by Andrew Sullivan as “sweeping Britain”.[7] The game made news in September 2009, when seven doctors and nurses working at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, England were suspended for playing the lying down game while on duty.[6][8][9][6] The game has been described by some as “pointless” [3][10] and as “Parkour for those who can’t be arsed“. Similarly, in the USA, a student group from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis held a flashmob-style mass game and posted clips of the event and passers’-by reactions on YouTube, referring to the event simply as “lazy parkour“.[11]

he lying down game spread to the rest of the world where it has also been known as “시체놀이” (“playing dead”) (2003,South Korea),[12][13] “à plat ventre” (“On one’s belly”, France 2004),[14] “extreme lying down”, (2008, Australasia)[15] “facedowns” (2010, USA and Ireland),[16][17] and Planking (2011, Australia & New Zealand and worldwide).[18] Many participants of planking since 2011 have photographed the activity on unusual locations such as atop poles, roofs and vehicles, while some “plankers” engage in the activity by planking only their upper body and feet while leaving the back suspended.

The term “planking” was coined in Australia and the practice became a fad in 2011.[19] Planking is described as the practice of lying down flat with arms to the side , to mimic a wooden plank. It has its origins in the “lying down game”.[20]

On 13 May 2011, a 20-year-old man from Gladstone in central Queensland was charged for allegedly planking on a police vehicle.[21] Popular planking locations include park benches and other public places. On 15 May 2011, Acton Beale, a 20-year-old man, plunged to his death after reportedly “planking” on a seventh-floor balcony in Brisbane, Australia. Beale became the first known casualty of the planking fad

Acton Beale’s friends have accused Paul Carran, a New Zealander living in Sydney who claims to have invented planking in 2008, of bearing responsibility for Beale’s death by promoting planking.[15] Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, warned plankers that the “focus has to be on keeping yourself safe first”.[23] The Queensland Opposition and the state’s police have called for people to stop participating in the fad.[24]

On 29 May 2011, Max Key, son of New Zealand Prime MinisterJohn Key, uploaded a photograph to Facebook of himself planking on a lounge suite, his father standing behind him. After the photograph was reproduced on the front page of the New Zealand Herald two days later, the Prime Minister’s office initially declined comment,[25] but later that day, confirming that the photograph was indeed genuine, Mr. Key remarked that he doesn’t see anything wrong with planking when done safely, and that it was he who had actually introduced Max to planking in the first place, having seen a video of the phenomenon on YouTube.[26]


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