Sunday, April 13, 2008

My Attempts at Toy Design

One of the things I noticed during Barry’s talk was everything about toys needs to be appealing. Even the graphic to describe toys (the tetrahedron with colorful axes, and the grid of present toys) were appealing. How has this changed over time?

From the talk we learned that toys are grouped into four different types of play: sensory, fantasy, construction, and challenge. These are all relatively easy types of interaction, with toys not even being necessary. For instance, feeling grass or sand is sensory, playing make believe, fantasy, putting various things together, construction, and challenge can be word puzzles you devise in your own mind. All of these things can be obtained without a toy, so why are toys so crucial? Also, how could you make simple toys more “fun”?

I started from the very simple example of blocks- how could blocks be more fun or captivating?


So I realized that all of these are taking a construction toy, and making it more complex by adding another element. These all add a sensory or challenge type addition to the simple toy of blocks. I don’t know how many of these toys actually exist, but all of them seem like they could be amusing. I think the most fun would be moldable blocks so you could create your own structure (like sand in a somewhat rigid case) that lit up based on interactions with other blocks. Perhaps there could be puzzle cards like in taboo to try to figure out the best ways to have them interact.

  1. Squishy Blocks
  2. Differently shaped building pieces
  3. Blocks like stress balls
  4. Permanently moldable blocks
  5. Interactive Blocks
  6. Talking blocks
  7. Light up blocks
  8. Blocks that light up based on patterns in how you assemble them

I went through a similar exercise with dolls too. I ended up with “Dolls that quiz you for the SAT.”

I’m glad I don’t actually have to make my toys- one of my friends is in the class at MIT. She was in the group doing mechanical toys: ladder robots, now with no ladders, and racing hovercrafts. Both of these toys seem hard to build to me.

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