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90s playground craze POGs is trying to make a gaming comeback

  • April 1, 2019
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Do you remember POGs? Cast your mind way back. They were the thin cardboard circles which spread across playgrounds like nits in the 90s before being abruptly banned by schools – something to do with fights and being a bit close to gambling for comfort.

Well POGs are making a comeback! A London team has licensed POGs for a new augmented reality mobile game, which doesn’t mean a whole new printing run of POGs but it does mean you can scan in your old POGs if you still happen to have them – they can’t all have been thrown away, can they?

POGs: The Mobile Game isn’t a done deal – it’s a newly launched Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign looking for $50,000 and still a long way from it. Somehow charming British TV presenter Ortis Deley was convinced to front the campaign’s pitch video, but it looks a bit like he filmed himself with his phone.

The POGs mobile game intends to work like the old 90s playground game. You build a collection of POGs and play a stack against an opponent – who doesn’t have to be in a playground with you now, of course – throwing your slammer as you try to flip and therefore win their POGs.

In the mobile game, this will play out in a colourful mini-game on the screen. Apparently all the old eye-catching POG designs will be in there, and the aim is to have the game on iOS and Android later this year.

It’s a novelly nostalgic idea, but isn’t the secret of fads like POGs or Pokémon cards (still) or fidget spinners them being physically present in the playground to begin with? How many kids of junior school age (which seems like prime age to me) will actually have access to a phone during play times?

Maybe I’m just being grumpy.

The game of flipping an opponent’s pieces stretches back hundreds of years to Edo Period Japan and the game of Menko apparently. But the 90s POGs craze began in Hawaii, where a teacher called Blossom Galbiso had children play the game using cardboard milk bottle caps because it was a fun way to help with maths.

Blossom’s cardboard cap-flipping game got so popular the dairy responsible for the caps was inundated with orders, both for milk and for a new drink, similarly capped, but made of passion fruit, orange and guava – known, more commonly, by its acronym POG.

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