Have you seen the newest Monopoly game, the electronic banking edition, where players swipe their debit cards to pay for property, taxes, etc… What did you think?
My gut reaction—Yikes, playing with credit card look-alikes, how can that be good for raising kids? The rational me reaction—No surprise. Play mirrors life. Hard to imagine that our grandchildren will even remember money. Instead of buying Boardwalk with the roll of a square, plastic die, children playing Monopoly of the future may take a holographic site tour of Martian biodomes and have to calculate Martian-Earth exchange rates to create their intergalactic real estate empire.
And what about sex? (Where are you going with this Sabrina, you ask.). Toys depend upon and help shape our sense of touch (e.g. teddy bears, scrabble letters, monopoly pieces, baseballs etc…). They involve the hands and body by definition and develop our sensuality and sense of play. So if play all happens through a remote, will sex in the future need one as well? Actually, if you look at current game control design, yeah, over there, hmmmm. And then there’s the joy stick. Anyhoo, I’ve digressed enough.
Children’s toys and games don’t often find their way into grown up entertainment. When they do show up, they’re not really about having fun. In Star Next Generation Unification II, we meet a 24th century toy—Vulcan language dice, used by the Romulan Unificationists to teach their children Vulcan. Keeping the unification dream alive, toys are a political statement. And these were Spock’s toys as a child which explains an awful lot. I adore Spock and the Vulcans, but let’s face it, they’re not a hell of a lot of fun. Toys will tell.
Designing toys and play is fun part of world building even if they don’t actually show up in our final drafts. I’ve found when I get stuck with a character, delving into their childhood–how they were parented, how they played, the toys they used—can breathe life into their personality and quirks and drives.
So how about you, any examples of other worldly toys you’d love to get your hands on or toys of the future you know are coming down the pipeline? You are invited to play along.