These games are based on two (and in some variations of these games on three) interlinking activities or tasks.
All players begin by undertaking a common activity or task, which requires to be performed with some concentration and skill. When a player makes a mistake during the course of this activity or task, then the player becomes motionless. A player may be rescued from this immobility by another player choosing to rescue them by undertaking a second activity or task on behalf of the immobile player. Once this second activity has been successfully completed, then both the rescuer and the player being rescued return to the original activity.
In one variation of these games, a player making a mistake does not become immobile, but begins a new activity. This activity is finite (that is, has a beginning and an ending) and if a player is not rescued by another player before this activity comes to an end then the player who has made the mistake remains immobile until the end of the game.
- The first activity or task may be repetitive (throwing and catching a ball, for example) or accumulative (building a tall tower from a collection of wooden bricks). 'Mistakes' will be defined before the game begins. For example, a player may be free to explore and enjoy different ways of throwing their ball into the air and catching it - but if the ball strikes the floor then this is a mistake. Similarly, a player may build and dismantle a variety of tall towers, but if a brick falls to the floor or the tower collapses then this is a 'mistake'.
- The rescuing activity or task should provide a challenge to the rescuer and generally (though there are exceptions to every generality) make something of a contrast with the first activity or task. For example, a player may be rescued from a mistake made during the course of a sedentary activity through the performance of a highly physical activity. Where players bring different skills to the game rescuers may be given options or alternatives for the rescuing activity. Rescuers indicate in some way which player is being rescued.
- The activity to be undertaken (in some variations of the game) by a player who has made a mistake should be an activity which is necessarily of a limited duration. The player may however seek to extend this activity in time - for example, by performing a movement as slowly as possible - in order to facilitate a rescue.
- The first activity may be also be performed in small groups (for instance, by throwing a ball between players, or by building a brick tower together). But, if a mistake is made, then all the players in the group become motionless, or begin a new activity.