Power-up prank lands gamers in trouble

Ohio girls face potential charges for joke after bomb squad is called; teenagers made life-size Mario power-up boxes, hung them around town.

Games have gotten some kids in trouble again, but this time it's a far cry from the Devin Moore case, which continues to make headlines. This time the source of the problem wasn't an M-rated game like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas or Doom, it was the seemingly innocuous Super Mario Bros.

In the town of Ravenna, Ohio, five teenage girls, ages 16 and 17, crafted some life-sized power-up boxes modeled after those in the NES classic. The cardboard boxes were covered in shiny, gold wrapping paper and had the black question marks familiar to most gamers. As an April Fools joke, the girls laid 17 of these boxes around the town in public spaces Friday morning.

The humor was lost on some residents, however. After noticing one package on the steps of a church, a concerned citizen reported the "suspicious package" to local authorities, who called in the county's hazardous materials unit and the bomb squad.

Upon further inspection, no materials designed to harm people, mushrooms to increase a person's size, or flowers that bestow the ability to project bouncing fireballs were found inside the boxes. The packages were empty.

Ravenna Police Chief Randall McCoy told the online edition of the Record-Courier that one girl came into the police department with one of her parents and claimed responsibility, saying it was just a joke.

Apparently, the girls got the idea from the Web site Qwantz.com, which gives detailed instructions on how to make the boxes. The Web site intended the posting to inspire art projects, and several subversive artists have submitted photos of their Mario blocks in action across the country.

The girls face possible criminal charges for their actions. While most in the online community think the authority's actions are a tad extreme, McCoy defends the proceedings of his department.

"The potential is always present when dealing with a suspicious package that it could be deadly," McCoy told the Record-Courier. "In today's day and age, you just cannot do this kind of stuff."

A posting on Quantz.com responds to the incident in Ravenna. "Not everyone has the same cultural context and not everyone is relaxed about public spaces. [The idea of the project] is to bring a smile to people's faces, to get them to connect with their neighbors, to bring color into an otherwise grey urban landscape. [We] are deeply sorry that things are not working out in Ravenna."

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Discussion

187 comments
sidneyisaac
sidneyisaac

are they still gonna be facing criminal charges?

Crucifier
Crucifier

hell, even if it WAS a bomb i think our rights outweigh the threats of a bomb. this is the kind of crap that makes people oppose the government.

Crucifier
Crucifier

anyone (the cop) who would press for criminal charges should be fired and exiled from the country. it was an innocent prank (if even that) and that a-hole cop apparently doesn't value our first amendment rights. wtf is this craphole country coming to?

chubhold
chubhold

i can't believe teenage girls are into mario powerups. wish they were when i was in high school

EugeneE3RD
EugeneE3RD

I can understand where the police are coming from. In this day & age of terrorism, the cops & people in the town, don't know if the boxes were dangerous of not. People have to understand that in this day & age, there are people who want to hurt/kill people. Years ago, this joke would probably have been funny but in this day & age, it's not funny.

bigelf72
bigelf72

I saw next april fools, we all make Mario Blocks

Titan124
Titan124

The fact that people called this in as a bomb threat proves how stupid the average person is. I don't see how someone sees a big, colorful box in plain view and thinks "OMG BOMB!"

AngryPanda
AngryPanda

Cops are stupid. The reactionary environment that we live in is ridiculous. More and more like Orwell's endless war ever day.

namelessbob
namelessbob

This Gives me an idea for a prank. instead of putting Mario boxes around the city, just put plain cardboard boxes around the city and watch as everyone flips out.

Happy_Omen
Happy_Omen

Good thing the police are here to protect us from all those terrorist, teenage, gaming girls. The world is a safer place now.

Kranium
Kranium

Criminal charges for placing a box on the street? Only in America.

JBrookbank
JBrookbank

I think that the authorities are reacting far too strongly to this harmless prank. They should be more concerned with capturing real criminals and less concerned with kids that are just trying to have some fun with an artistic and video game-themed flair.

rich639
rich639

ythis is completely hilarious....and a complete overreaction i think

dtaylor83
dtaylor83

That's a funny ass joke! But because of things like the Unabomber and 9-11, not too many people (whether they know about Mario Bros. or not) are gonna look at a box with a ? on it and assume it's harmless.

imnotwhite
imnotwhite

GOOMBAS ARE COMING GET ALL THE POWER UPS YOU CAN!

Kantwon
Kantwon

Wow except for those two girls there wasn't a single soul that plays video games in that city. It baffling.

Sheegot
Sheegot

There truely is something wrong in the USA v . v

Tremblay343
Tremblay343

what normal person wouldn't notice that its a mario box? Even my mom knows what those are, and shes knows nothing about games

Dark_Synphonian
Dark_Synphonian

whats wrong with people today? its just a damn box i would have probly taken it home its a cool box. not called the cops those dumbasses.

MagnusGman
MagnusGman

OH NOES THE TERRORIST HAVE STRUCK OHIO!!!!!!............yarg

timinator06
timinator06

I think we need to understand that what if they had contained something harmful. Yeah we all know that those boxes are from Mario, but what about 70 year-old grandma's? Especially with the church burnings in Georgia (i know thats not the right state) I mean yeah terrorists aren't going to target suburban Ohio, but what if there was another person like the unibomber. Stuff like this is always tough to judge on what to do. Yeah the cops shouldnt react so harshly after it turned out to be nothing, but the girls could have asked/told the police before hand. This is just a hard one for me to call. On one hand, the police obviously overreacted, but on the other, if they dont do anything about it, someone who is seriously deranged could take a similar idea and actually put bombs or other hazardous materials into something like this, the police i assume are trying to stamp out any ideas. Then again, anyone who makes bombs and is considering using them on the public obviously knows there is retribution for the act so....idk once again.

elmaleh112
elmaleh112

Wow! What a nerdy prank. Putting ? boxes from Mario games all over your town. First of all, people will be suspicious of the boxes since adults don't play video games. Second, why would you take time out of your day to make boxes with ? on them when you can actually do a prank that's short but actually funny. I don't get why the police made the girls face criminal charges. It's dumb since there were nothing inside the boxes.

RandyNewman
RandyNewman

How truly ridiculous. I'm almost ashamed to live in Ohio. I mean, who's never played Mario?

-CoMBaT-
-CoMBaT-

I'm VERY serious about anti-terrorism acts, but this is just plain rediculous, if terrorists had bombs in our country, I somehow don't see them putting them inside Mario boxes. What we have here isn't helping America, its making it look worse, we have 5 girls possibly facing criminal charges and going to jail, for doing nothing, no one was hurt, its not like they put the boxes in the middle of traffic, or threw them off roofs at people, no, it wasn't anything dangerous. I think its up to the kids or young adults, like the teenage girls possibly facing charges, to make the rest of the public realize how stupid this is, how threatening are Mario boxes, they don't even look threatening, since apparently these parents and older residents of Ohio have never heard of Mario, its up to the kids to explain this kind of stuff to them, good luck.

morrowind83
morrowind83

These people have obliously never played Mario.

NitroKat
NitroKat

Stupid cops! It seems like the real work of the law is killing fun, and making world as gray as possible. Hummmmmm, maybe they suspected there was a poisonous mushroom inside. Anybody remembers the "fake box bomb" in Mario Kart 64?

Kratos_1024
Kratos_1024

wow thats just out of control, i mean to criminaly charge them is just way to extreme the boxes had no point to in hurting anyone. it was just a harmless joke (that really isn't funny) that went wrong

DarkWraith72
DarkWraith72

um, could someone please explain to me what law they broke, exactly? Littering? Not even sure if that's against the law in Ohio (some states it is, some it isn't). Causing a panic? I'm not hearing anything about riots. Honestly, the worse thing that could have been in those boxes would be mushrooms and flowers, and I'd say the whole coloring pattern on it would be a give away (um, hello, bombers don't use flamboyant coloring like that) - look at the colors!! lol.....the gov't is soon going to become a fascist, totalitarian state, if it becomes illegal to have fun....seriously, celebrating April FOOLs.....and they're going to press charges!? wtf....

Andy7546
Andy7546

Geez, the cops are idiots. I mean seriously, what terrorist would decide to put bombs in powerup boxes in suburban Ohio? They ruined a great joke.

vision7
vision7

that suks ...cops were stupid .... kinda

x-wing20
x-wing20

That was great I can't belive they'rer making such a big dael out of Jack Thompson is soon to follow this incident will be mentioned in my documentry.

Hoffy
Hoffy

Great prank, but a sore day for my state, Ohio, because the police are over reacting.

squirelrunner
squirelrunner

what idiot called the freakin BombSquad about a box with a question mark on it.

Jir11
Jir11

Criminal charges???? Are these people f***ing insane??? LOL What a bunch of idiots! I completely disagree with this, the girls made some colourfull boxes and put them around town big f****ing deal! Unbelievable, I feel like going down to the police station and slapping all the idiots out for being so stupid. Criminal charges indeed!

Mindphaser
Mindphaser

As if terrorists are going to make things THAT OBVIOUS and use no less than 17 of the things at once in small rural town. The only idiots here are the authorities.

diamondfox32
diamondfox32

Boxes with question marks on them "could be deadly"? Just who did they think they were under attack by, Jokey Smurf? Guess it's just a sign of the times...

holhardy
holhardy

This is funny, so the next time a postmen leaves a "package" im calling the cops, and sayin "this guy just left this box at my door" because in this day and age you just can't leave "packages" at people's doors, and they have to arrest the postman for Crimial behavior, because they arrested these girls for doing the same thing in Ravenna, GIVE ME A BREAK. Ok but they did leave boxes all around their town, thats littering, they places them in colorful boxes and didnt tell anyone they where going to this, that gets them criminal misjeft at most, but come on they didn't call the cops and say that they where bombs. What did people think, terrorists where gona wipe Ravenna off the map with boxes of colorful Question makes. They arent Riddlers know. The pizza man, postman, UPS, the yellow truck guys, all bring boxes to peoples doors they dont know whats in it till they open it. Did they think it was a unabomber, but i didnt here that the boxes had forward addresses to Lawer Thompson? Grow up cops of Ravenna.

amkalfus
amkalfus

I can see where the police are coming from, but it is sort of sad.