It is known today, especially in middle-school circles, as "the choking game," "the pass-out game," "the tingling game" or "the space monkey." At that age, my friends, and I experimented with a version of this we called “the hyperventilation game” (we should have called It “the stupid game”) and no choking was involved. One person simply would squat down, take 30 or so quick deep breaths stand up quickly and exhale forcefully, and another person would grab them from behind, wrap their arms around their chest, and squeeze until the hyperventilated person fell limp in their arms.
I understand now that the brain maintains no reserves of O2 and, unlike other organs, has an exceedingly low tolerance of O2 deprivation, plus the low levels of carbon monoxide in the blood causes the veins in the brain to constrict. The brain is temporarily deprived of oxygen – you pass out. THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS GAME THAT CAN (AND HAS) RESULTED IN MANY DEATHS!
Three of us played this dangerous game for a brief time when I lived in Florence, Alabama. I may have continued to play it longer had I had a better experience. The other two had good experiences and their description was much like those people who claim to have had a NDE describes theirs.
Laying there in the grass, still not fully in control of their arms and legs yet, they talked about how peaceful it was, about the white light, about the weight of the world lifting from their extremities, and about how weak they still felt.
For me, it was at first the feeling of numbness coming over me, then bright sparks of light blinking around my head and in front of my eyes, then a while light flashed and changed to red, and then a horrible face (that I perceived as the devil) appeared before me! Kids that do this often laugh at the involuntary movements of the “victims” arms and legs. My legs and arms flailed wildly as I fought what they could not see – I pushed, shoved, and punched with closed fists to their distant amusement.
When it was my turn to describe my experience it was totally different, I lay in a panic gasping for breath. The others could not understand why I did not get a kick out of it, but I knew that I did not want any more experiences like that again.
However, like all stupid kids trying to be accepted, I did try it one more time after being pressured into it. It was also very stupid that I let them talk me into trying it inside and, worst yet, in my mother’s living room.
As soon as the guy released his grip on my chest I lunged into a rage and stormed around the room screaming incoherently and punching at the face of the devil that was poking at me with his pitchfork! At least two lamps fell and broke, pictures were scraped from the walls, and chairs were turned over.
When I regained control and focus, I saw the two guys that had promised to hold me down standing huddled in a corner looking very confused and frightened. I perused the damage and knew immediately that there was not going to be any “talking to me” this time. This warranted a full-fledged butt whipping!
I never again played that stupid game and as far as I know neither did the other guys.
I submit that the “near death experience” is merely the brain's lack of oxygen and low level of carbon monoxide. If you have ever almost passed out, or stood up too fast, you too have come close to a NDE. To me it is just another reason not to fear death. Whether you see the comforting light or the face of the devil, it will not last long; there is no pain, you are receding!