Friday, April 06, 2007


This video of a banned commercial got me laughing, and not just because I play video games.

It brought up quite a few memories of some high school days as well. When I was a freshman or a sophomore in the mid-80s, I remember two upperclassmen groups bringing toy guns to school. Toy armalites, toy Uzis, toy grenades, stuff like that. I don't think they were even pellet guns; they'd make these cheesy-sounding rat-a-tat-a-tat sounds. The even cheesier ones would make laser gun-like sound effects. Come recess or lunch hour or immediately after the last bell had rung, and bang! Guns were drawn and woe to those who were caught in the crossfire. Bearing firearms that made videogame-like sound effects, these two groups of teenage boys and girls sneaked along the stairwells, barged into toilets, and tiptoed around corners to take down the greatest number of casualties that they could.

It seemed like everybody else joined in by not joining in. That is, any non-armed person was fair game, to be brought down as casualties. So the rest of us, once we realized the game was afoot, would lurk behind doors and corners to avoid being "shot." Remember, there was no ammo; the only sounds of gunfire we'd hear were the toy guns' sound effects. And if the guns weren't battery-operated, we'd hear the shooter shout something like "Bang!" or "Boom!" to indicate they had pulled the trigger. Once in a while they'd "shoot" a teacher, who would gamely clutch his or her chest and emit a dying groan. Such fun!

One of my girlfriends had a big crush on a certain shooter. One day, we had just finished our snack when we saw people running past us, screaming in a giggly sort of way. Woo hoo, game time! We snuck under the table, waiting for the shooter to go by. A few seconds later, we spied a pair of feet in tasseled leather shoes amble past us. "Oh, my God!" my friend whispered. "It's X!" (X being her crush.) She started to scramble out from under the table. "What are you doing?" I hissed. "He'll see you!"

The silly fool shrugged my hand off and actually giggled. I didn't really see her do it, but knowing her, I bet she smoothed back her hair and the skirt of her school uniform before taking a few loud steps ostensibly to go somewhere. Sure enough, a second later I heard a male voice shout "bang!" before seeing my friend sink gracefully to the floor like a falling leaf in autumn, an idiotic smile on her face. She died with that rapturous expression almost every day for the next two weeks. I don't know about you, but if someone had just shot me to death, you can bet your ass I wouldn't be grinning as if I had just won the lottery.

These memories make me smile a bittersweet smile. About 20 years ago, no one batted an eyelash at high school kids bringing toy guns to school, holding make-believe shoot-outs (at least here in my country). Heck, even some of the teachers shared in the fun. Innocent fun that brought gales of laughter. Innocent games (with weapons that stood for violence notwithstanding) where the casualties would get up a few seconds after being shot to resume their business or to advise shooters on strategy. But most of all, there was the feeling of fun, of camaraderie, during and after each game.

Kids can't play this game anymore these days -- at least not in their schools, because of real-life school tragedies that we've all heard about. Appalling tragedies. Kids shooting other kids for boggles the mind. Sure, there are other games to play, other games perhaps waiting to be discovered. But the loss of innocence, the narrowing of its parameters, the fact that make-believe now has limitations, is saddening somehow. What the hell went wrong?


houseband00 said...


I miss my old hobby tuloy. =)

Debo Blue said...

What indeed.

Kiyotoe said...

i hate the fact that when/if i have little baby dragons that they won't be able to enjoy nearly as much as i did when i was a kid. And i couldn't enjoy half the crap my dad could or his dad before him.

Simple things like playing outside all day until the sun goes down, going to the carnival just me and the fellas, riding our bikes across county lines "exploring" other towns.


yeah, what the hell did go wrong?

it's the little things... said...

The times they are a-changing...

Turnbaby said...

I have a lot to say about this but don't want to just rant along in your comments. Thoroughly enjoyed your post as it brought back memories of my sisters and cousins playing ' cowboys and indians' it was so much fun

ian said...

To Dragon: Perhaps your calling as a scriptwriter is to come up with a new slew of Saturday morning cartoons that rock.

Lizza: The Columbine school shootings happened just across town from me. It was very scary. I was never allowed to play with toy guns as a kid. But I understand the way you all were playing and honestly, it sounds like loads of fun.


Lizza said...

HB: Well, there's still paintball. Pero may kamahalan yata?

Debo: Yay, you're back!

Kiyotoe: Baby dragons sound so cute. Maybe by that time things will be easier/safer/whatever. Hey, miracles can happen. :-)

Little things: For better or for worse, they sure are.

Turnbaby: I don't mind people ranting in the comments; it'll make this blog exciting for once. ;-)

I can imagine you having fun as a kid. :-D

Ian: I remember seeing that on TV. It seemed so surreal, like a bad joke. And you were near that place? Wow. It really must have traumatized the whole town.

Wendz said...

What a marvellous post Lizza - and that video is hilarious!

Yeah - I think most of us (our age) have brilliant childhood memories. I wonder what our kids will remember? Playstation games will be a big part of their childhood memories..but I hope also that they remember the forest rambles, bike riding, normal kids stuff.

Daddy papersurfer said...

Don't worry, kids will always do dangerous things, behave all nonPC and be as thoroughly horrible as ever. Everyone sounds so middle aged! I'm a Gamecube man myself and would love to have had it invented early last centuary when all I had to play with was a cardboard box and a piece of chalk and a grenade.

Scott from Oregon said...

So did the Phillapines start having shootings in school as well?

Yeah for guns!!

Lizza said...

Wendz: Yes, I hope they remember all the non-high-tech stuff, too! But looks like they're enjoying both.

Daddy Papersurfer: Hah! I'm glad to know you believe kids won't lose their innate horrible-ness. You play video games too? You really are so cool.

Scott: No, we haven't had any real school shootings as far as I can recall. And I pray we don't!

Matt-Man said...

Big Brother decided that people cannot assume personal responsibility so they ban things that are "bad" for us. Hell, the food police are circling the wagons around fast food joints, because some folks cant handle their Big Macs!! Cheers...

Prometheus said...

A case of the quest for realism in games and toys gone to the extreme. Prometheus remembers fashioning Star Trek communicators from empty matchboxes and rubberbands. Kids these days buy fancy Communicators that actually commmunicate.

Prometheus is not 'middle aged', DaddyP. He is a game freak himself. But he suspects that kids learn to take shooting casually. Like 'fragging' the Pig Cop in Duke Nukem. Prometheus suspects those morons don't realise that when people take a real .357 slug in the chest, they can't hit 'Resume' and continue play.

Is it 'parenting by remote' that's to blame?

Natalia said...

Oh I love that commercial. We use it in class.

I have no clue why people ban the weirdest things.

And I remember my childhood as so peaceful.

School was a safe place. And so was the street.


Lizza said...

Matt: Government sure is a strange creature, innit? All over the world.

Prometheus: The argument about whether TV, music, video games, etc. promote violence is so disconcerting. Why can't we all just have harmless fun? ;-)

Natalia: Your class sounds like so much fun! Learning and having fun at the same time, one of the terrific experiences in life.

Travis said...

Well, I can tell you that this game is alive and well at my company. At least twice a week, the art department goes nuts and starts a nerf war with the game designers.

No one is safe (from the fun), which is why we are all armed.

Your points are valid. These games could never be played in schools today.

CS said...

It has gotten scary. We had a kid bring a gun to one of our conty middle schools, with plans to kill a teacher. They accidentlally shot one of the planners in the leg. Fortunately, I guess, because it ended their plans. So disturbing.

When I took fencing in college, we ended the course with a hige melee, which involved dying melodramtically when you took a fatal hit. It was a blast, and a more innocent time.

Lizza said...

Travis: Wow, your workplace sounds so much fun!

CS: I'm glad another school shooting was avoided. And it makes me smile to think about you faking a melodramatic death when you were fencing!