Toy Design Project

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Research

The project started on the 3rd of january and the delivery date is the 13th of May, so I'm currently in the first stage of the project; the research stage.

So far I have made a plan for what areas I need to research, and I have done some preliminary work like light scanning through the internet and ordering of some books. Two of the books I ordered is on their way now, but I've already read some of one of them as I borrowed my friend's copy.

The books on my list so far are:
"Rules of Play" by Salen and Zimmerman
"Man, Play and Games" by Caillois
"The Ambiguity of Play" by Sutton-Smith
"Flow: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness" by Csikszentmihaly

What I expect to find out through these books are some basics theories of play. Both the act of playing with physical toys and the act of playing with games. The book "Flow..." was recommended by my professor, Simon Clatworthy, as a study of the phenomenon of consentration. You know when you get so focused on a game or some other thing, that you lose all sense of time and space. Six hours later you wake up from your game and realize it's late at night. It should be interesting.

This weekend I took a tour of some toy shops in Oslo, just to observe the situation. And discovered some interesting details:

  • The biggest toy shop in Oslo is "Toys R Us", yet it seemes to me that they don't have as broad a selection of toys as the smaller shop "Edwis" in Oslo City (the shopping mall).
  • Bayblade products are kept behind the counter... Apparently they are so popular they have to be watched carefully. You can only look closely at them if you ask an employee. Scary...
  • Some shops also sells some Beyblade-copies called "Spin Battles". They are much cheeper, and are obviously of a lower quality. The price is about a fourth of the price of official Beyblade products. Nobody wants these things, the shops are practically throwing them away.
  • There is even some "Bratz"-copies available. Though these have differently shaped faces and eyes, and have a more "cute" look than the usual "cool" look of Bratz. I think the producers of the copy have missed something important.
  • Games Workshop has their own shop, and through a conversation with an employee I found out that you have to be 11 years old or more to take part at the activities in the shop. The younger kids do not understand the rules of the games and tend to play with the models in their own way. The activities in the shop include painting and battling with the models.

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