Little-Bang Theory of Violence: It All Begins With a Toy Gun

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By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 11, 2007

"I want an official Red Ryder, carbine-action, 200-shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time."

"You'll shoot your eye out."

* * *

Ralphie Parker, patron saint of toy gun owners, with your pure desire and your unyielding mom, how deep would your passion burn for Nintendo's new Wii Zapper?

The toy in question is a new accessory for the Wii game console. It's not a controller but a gunlike cradle designed to hold the Wiimote and Wii Nunchuk, increasing players' accuracy in shooting games. Like the other members of the Wii family, the Zapper is white and elegant, all sleek curves and shiny surfaces. It is futuristic in the way that "Star Wars" is futuristic, a sort of retro-future that will never happen and already has. The name Zapper is a homage to the company's first Zapper, an orange ray gun sold with the original Nintendo in 1985.

This new Zapper, the Wii Zapper, with its snub nose and smooth grip, is the prettiest submachine gun ever sold.

If that's what it is.

"We don't think it even really looks like a gun," says George Harrison. He is Nintendo's senior vice president of marketing, so he offers an alternative concept: "It's a utility that allows for more diverse styles of play."

Certain parents disagree.

In a recent New Jersey Star-Ledger online survey, one grandparent responded to news of Zapper by writing, "Why don't they enclose an application to the NRA in every box as well? . . . The marketing person who came up with this brainchild of an idea should be fired."

Certain kids salivate.

"I think it's going to make it feel like you're actually holding a gun in real life," says Jonathan Moreira, 16, who has been awaiting the Zapper (on sale Nov. 19 for $19.99) since he saw it advertised at a gaming conference in July. "It'll change everything about FPS" (first person shooting, for you non-gamers).


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