By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Students at a Twin Cities high school have brought back a popular and controversial game, but not without a strict set of rules.

More than 100 students are playing in Nerf Wars at Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights. It’s the first time they’ve organized the game since 2015 when two students at a south metro school died in a car crash while playing it.

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“Overall, it’s been a really fun game, great to see everybody get involved with each other,” said Ian Gonder, a senior at the school.

Gonder is one of several student organizers who brought Nerf Wars back to his school, a game in which teams use the toy gun to knock each other out until one team is left to win a cash prize. Variations are played at high schools across the Twin Cities.

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“We think that every kid at Simley knows to follow the rules, no matter what,” said Andrew Sivertson, a senior.

(credit: CBS)

Their list of rules is thorough, such as outlining where and when the game can be played. But one theme is of utmost importance this time around.

“Safety, just especially with that whole incident in 2015,” Gonder said.

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In 2015, 17-year-old Jake Flynn and 18-year-old Johnny Price, then students at Lakeville High School, died when the car they were in crashed as they were playing Nerf Wars. In 2016, New Hope students also crashed while playing the game. It happened again in Waconia in 2018. Those incidents prompted this group to draft strict rules related to driving.

“No shooting out of the car, no shooting into the car, you always have to be on foot,” senior Andrew Sivertson said.

Teams will also be disqualified if police pull them over for breaking laws like speeding or running stop signs. The rules were presented to police as well as school administrators during a meeting with the student organizers.

“They were impressed. They didn’t think that a bunch 16, 17, 18-year-old kids were going into that much detail to make sure that people are safe,” Gonder said.

Inver Grove Heights police posted on Facebook about the meeting, saying the department “does not support the idea of Nerf Wars but appreciates the development of rules in an attempt to have those participating be as safe as possible.”

The boys realize concern from parents and school staff will always surround the game, but they have a message.

“Just know that we’re trying our best to make sure that the games are safe,” Gonder said.

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Police also advised parents to talk with their children about how they should conduct themselves if they are playing the game. The Inver Grove Heights school district has no affiliation with Nerf Wars but stands by the statement from police.

Jeff Wagner