Toys R’ Dust: Updated versions of our childhood


Do you remember the last time you wished you were a kid again? Maybe it was that time you were climbing those mountains upon mountains of projects to do and papers to submit, or it could’ve struck you as you waited on an eternal line at the train station, or maybe even when you just simply see your childhood heroes turn into tattooed villains.

Yes, life was definitely sweeter when your only problem was being tagged, and you only waited when counting to a hundred and when you could be anyone you wanted to be, with the help of handkerchiefs and cardboards. But if you happen to find one of those magic lamps, please be sure to specify that you wish to be a kid back in your own era, because today, “running games” require more hands than legs.

College students at present had their formative childhood years sometime during the late 90’s and early 2000’s. This epoch was the heyday of anime and their corresponding toys, which was the only time manuals were ever read. Tamiya drove everyone crazy with its small engines, despite big prices. Don’t deny that you tried to run along with your Tamiya Stingray in the hope of getting people to think that you were smooth. If those mini F1’s weren’t your drift, there was always the quiet comfort of the Tamagotchi. Now even though they may not be as thrilling as the Tamiya, taking care of these byte-sized babies was excitement enough to elevate your blood pressure. Don’t you remember those school days where you stuck these critters around your zipper on the way to school? Ironically, it was we who were forever chained to every beep.

After all the love-giving of Tamagotchi, we entered a phase of war-making, and there were no better weapons than the Beyblade. Could there be anything more exciting than seeing metal clash, sparks fly, and tops, well, topple? This spinning sensation created a generation of warriors, ready to battle for honor, glory, and mostly to see the other kids’ tops fly in the air into pieces. For those who find that steel-on-steel action didn’t float their both, another medium of combat was provided by a simple deck of cards. Yu-Gi-Oh not only gave us the most memorable battles, but it also got us busted, as teachers showed no mercy in confiscating our beloved blue-eyed and red-eyed dragons.

But as we entered DLSU, we were greeted by our own red eyes and black eye bags from all the daily battles. We had outgrown these toys to become the very adults we dreaded and hated when we were kids. We have transcended from kids to adults and that process was the ruckus, insanity and blur called high school. And when we visit our respective schools, we see the new generations of kids playing different kinds of games which we inevitably compared to the ones we played during our time. At present, the digitization of everything has encroached on the social and playful aspects of the children.

Whereas before we held on tightly to our Yu-Gi-Oh decks and Crush Gears, the children of today seem to have new toys they never let go of: iPads and iPhones. Indeed, nowadays, the child’s idea of playing involves swiping their fingers across a digital screen over and over, going through an assortment of free and easy to download apps. Possibly the most popular game today, Angry Birds, has them launching colored birds at an arrangement of stones, blocks, and pigs. Another popular game, Cut the Rope, has them try to pass a piece of candy through an assortment of obstacles in order to feed a pet. However, among all the applications these kids are playing, there seems to be one thing in common: they seem to have taken away the social aspects of playing.

Before, we would eagerly await the chance to test our Beyblades against our neighbors or trade Pokemon cards with our classmates. But now, there seems to be significantly less interaction between kids, as they each play their own games, their eyes glued to their own personal screens. While it’s true that certain apps, such as the Tap Tap series, allows people to play against each other in fast-paced rhythm action, these apps are far and few in-between. And even then, this kind of interaction is vastly different from the wild and unpredictable social nature of the games of before.

To be fair, today’s technology-focused leisure isn’t horrible, as a million downloads would tell you. We are now given a feast for the senses, and this fulfillment provides this unprecedented escape from reality. Another difference in the games of today is that most, if not all, seem reliant, in one way or another, on the internet. Whether it is through the act of downloading, or getting updates, or searching online for leaderboards and other similar statistics, the internet seems undeniably connected to everything nowadays. While this can be seen as a natural step forward, especially considering the advancement in technology, it is still a far cry from the card games and action figures of the past.

Whether this new reliance on technology can be considered better, worse, or simply different from the games of our youth, is debatable. What is sure though is that the social connection we enjoyed with our toys which we so passionately brought to grade school was lost through the proliferation of games on tablets and phones.

The times have most certainly changed from then and now though, and this can certainly be seen when one compares the games of our childhood and the popular games of the youth today. The term ‘generation gap’ comes to mind when one analyzes the glaring differences between the games of then and the games of now.

Sadly, we can only reminisce those sun-drenched moments of pure bliss, because like those mad birds, time is constantly flying, and a new generation has come along carrying with them their own playground. Our generation was fortunate enough to have experienced these toys which we physically owned and competitively played against each other. As we enter present times, we are introduced to a world where wires and cables have now become obsolete, and wireless connections promise improvements in connectivity, but has somehow made everyone farther apart. This connection is lost through the digitization of games which renders relevant social interaction unnecessary. This selfishness and self-centrism has plagued many aspects of social life such as interpersonal interaction, and this has already reached the games we treasure.

Alfonso Dimla

By Alfonso Dimla

Jonathan Mendoza

By Jonathan Mendoza

Wilhelm Tan

By Wilhelm Tan

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