I found these ads for Matchbox via Copyranter.  In them, war toys are sold by situating small boys in realistic, not at all playful, conditions.   The blurring of the lines between pretend and real war is really interesting.  Whereas pretend war could be fun, real war is certainly not so.  And, oddly, the facial expressions and postures of the children in the ads do not suggest that they are having fun at all.  The ads seem to reveal, more than most, how play is also socialization.





Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.