Flash Was More Than a Format, It Was a Destination

For some, the school cafeteria was the place to socialize before school. For me, it was the school library, huddled around a computer with my friends as we played game after game on Bonus.com, the only flash game website that the school’s firewall didn’t block. For a time, the ease and accessibility of Flash games meant they were an easy gathering space for young people. Without the need to find, download, and install a file on a school computer, a task that certain nanny software would outright block, Flash game websites were the destination of choice for bite size gaming and cool animations. It never got old fighting through a mountain of stick figures in Xiao Xiao #9, or trading rounds of artillery fire between friends in any one of a multitude of Artillery flash games. After talking through the events of January 6th, where white supremacists stormed the US Capitol building, we discuss some of our favorite Flash games and other things we played over the holiday break on this episode of Waypoint Radio.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/5dpwxb/flash-was-more-than-a-format-it-was-a-destination

My high school had a very early 2000’s IT setup. We all had logins and passwords, but there was no real central log of what we were doing. All website monitoring was done on some separate software that was always running, so if you attempted to visit a flash game site or anything else this software would stop you and make a log of it. Do it too many times and you got your access revoked. This was the only way the school knew what you were up to, if it wasn’t a listed site it didn’t ping the staff and you were free to do as your please.

Well eventually someone snitched on my friends about some random flash game website we were constantly visiting and it got banned. As this wasn’t the most advanced setup, I figured out a solution. Before I used any of the computers, I would restart it and force windows to boot into safe mode and bring up the command prompt. From there I simply deleted the directory with the monitoring software and voila. Surveillance and restriction free browsing. Either the system wasn’t designed to know which student was logged in to which machine or the staff didn’t know how to find out, but we were never caught as the ones doing it.

There are too many random flash games we had momentary obsessions with to name. I remember dumb games like “hit the heckler” and “smite them” and too many stick figure games to count. So many good times.

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I miss the era when school IT departments were completely clueless. (In our case, our school had some kind of primitive mid-90s imaging software that would reset the C: drive to “factory settings”, but for some reason they’d never applied it to the D: volume [which apparently they needed to set up on PCs to allow specific software to be installed for reasons I was not privy to, as a student]… so mysteriously, a bunch of stuff ended up on the D: volumes of various PCs around the school…)

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I feel bad that the only flash games I particularly remember are Robot Unicorn Attack and Bloons…

Flash Animations were always the more impressive thing. Those were the defining video of the internet before Youtube. (Unless you liked watching 240x240px RealPlayer videos in like 100p). Nothing like looking up “Goku Takes a Super Saiyan Shit” videos on Newgrounds in 7th grade.

Badger Badger Mushroom. Goodnight, sweet prince.

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I remember the rare occasion where a game on miniclip or dragongamez dot com would require macromedia rather than flash. Absolute lunacy, Grade 2D would not abide that shit in computer lab class (2pm to 3:30pm Wednesdays).

I took so many classes in high school just because they were always in the computer labs; it’s quite possible I’ve played more Line Rider than any other game in my life.

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Every computer lab needs to have some access to weird games to get super obsessed over. The school experience just isn’t the same without that.

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I don’t want to remember all the flash animations I watched because I would be forced to remember all the peak 00’s edgelord cringe I was just happily lapping up. There are so many random, pointless little sites that just became the zeitgeist for our school for a week and then fades into obscurity forever, only to occasionally be rattled loose by the prodding. Some band named Three Brain had a bunch of really janky animated music videos that we would just sing all the time and then just like that we moved on.

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As soon as anyone mentions Flash Animations, I always seem to think of the Xiao Xiao series of stick figure martial arts things [now preserved in YouTube videos: Xiao Xiao 1 - YouTube ]

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Those were incredible!

I played a ton of games on Newgrounds, Miniclip etc. Definitely had challenges in the friend groups for high scores and whatnot.

Middle school computer lab was super duper easy to get around the firewalls/blockers. High school took a bit more effort, but we figured out some rudimentary VPN (I think, I don’t remember exactly) to get around the very specific blockers in place. Eventually, we had the Halo CE demo downloaded on every computer and ran LAN matches during computer lab.

Our computer lab was open in the summer so the dozen or so of us who lived nearby played a ton of flash games and LAN games all summer for years. Great memories!

I think most of my Flash games memories are actually from Neopets when I was really young. I certainly played a lot of other flash games in school, but the ones from Neopets rare the ones I remember the most vividly

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My elementary school library had Brick Breaker and I think Windows Pinball, but I spent many many hours on this flash game aggregate site playing various monster truck games and trial-likes, and yes Xiao Xiao and many stick-man action games (it made me and my bestie try out animating similar things). Also those weird violent games and animations like bloody mario/sonic and penguin batting or whatever, I wasn’t as into those…

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My high school worked off network drives. At some point somebody figured out how to make a network-wide password accessible one where they uploaded a bunch of game files. Flash stuff, but also Halo: Combat Evolved. Knowing how to access it was undocumented, verbally passed-down knowledge. Felt sacred.

We were still doing OG Halo LAN parties on school computers in the mid 2010s! The one time I got caught was the only detention I had in high school until I started showing up late every day.

Oh and Poptropica was massive when I was much younger pre 2010. Think it had a vague educational veneer and the teachers tolerated it. I was the first one to clear the first island. Ask anyone!

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