Friday, January 23, 2009

A Brief History of Pogs

First of all I’d like to tell about a little incident that happened to me this week that’s unrelated to this pogging article. A friend of mine asked me the question, “If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?” to which I replied “Christopher Lowell”. I found that quite amusing. Now, onto business…

The game of Pogs was originally invented in Hawaii as a Gentile alternative to that Jewish dreidel spinning game. However instead of winning pieces of chocolate money, you now win small pieces of circular cardboard. The novelty of the game relies on the fact that each pog contains a neat little image of a popular cartoon character, steroid abusing baseball player, or a gay community icon such as Bea Arthur. This aspect of the game awakened the greedy desire within children to collect things in a futile attempt to fill a giant void in their lives.

The original rules of Pogs are quite different from the ones we use today. Each player makes a stack of his/her pogs. One player then flips a coin (or pog) to see who goes first. The winner of the toss then takes his/her Slammer (a heavy pog often covered with spikes or some kind of poisonous substance) and throws it at their opponent's stack. The opposing player must eat every one of the pogs in his/her stack that got flipped over. If the “slamming” player fails to flip any of his opponent’s pogs, then he must commit seppuku. The true version of the game failed to catch on because of the meager fact that people are afraid to die. The boring, girly-man version of the game gained popularity and became the version that we all remember playing today.

Many wonder why the Pog craze faded out of pop culture. Despite the boring rules and overall “gayness” of the modern version of the game, I feel there are two main reasons pogs failed. One of them was Pokémon. As soon as Pokémon hit, that was all us stupid kids could think about. It attacked every possible market: toys, snack foods, birth control. It was impossible to escape, and quickly stole the spotlight away from the game of pogs. The second reason the game of pogs failed in a children’s market was because adults discovered the game was basically teaching children how to gamble. I praise our nations’ schools for banning pogs; children don’t need to learn about taking chances since our lives are predestined and risk-free.

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