Designing a toy – Spidey

posted in: IT University, Play Design | 0

Designing a toy is no easy feat. Questions quickly arise, such as what target group does the toy cater to or is it going to incorporate analog or digital elements. Question like these will also give rise to several hypotheses that need to be tested out in an enviroment to see if that has any effect on the intended play experience.

All these questions was part of the second assignment in the play design course, which focussed on making a toy that needed to incorporate a digital element. Thus Spidey, the digital toy spider, was born.

The project
Spidey is a giant fluffy spider with the ability to get it legs torn off. The legs can then be put back on the spider in various ways, which result in some feedback in form of sounds and vibration. Assembling the spider correctly will give some additional feedback in the form of a good “song”. If doing it incorrectly the spider would emit “sad” sounds.

The target group of Spidey is not aimed at any particular group of people as any person of any age that are willing to engage in a playful activity can make use of it. However the intended play experience of the toy was first and foremost to faciliate collaborative play but it was also possible to play with the toy alone. This was the first hypotheses that we wanted to test out in order to investigate if it was indeed the case. Another hypothesis when making this toy was also to test if the toys ability to be transformed into several parts through disassembly could generate playful activity away from the spider by using its parts as something else. Lastly, the choice of a spider was also to investigate if the act of play could overwrite some peoples fear of spiders.

The digital element of Spidey was present through the use of an Arduino chipboard and various sensors, such as switches, magnets and soundspeakers. All this was put inside the toy in order to make it vibrate and give different different sounds whenever the users interacted with the toy.

Did it work
On a technical level, it worked perfectly. However, the choice of using a Ardunio board with different sensors did have its faults as the toy was handled rather roughly during the tests which often damaged the digital installation inside Spidey. This often led to a lot of repairs during the different tests. In terms of intended play, the project was also a success as the playful activity of interacting with Spidey often spilled out into the surroundings when the different users made each part of the spider into something entirely new and playful. However, pulling the legs of a spider did give rise to some ethical issues during the tests which needed to be overcome by the users in order to enjoy playing with the spider.

Want to learn more
If you want to learn more, please read the project on this link: SPIDEY_FINAL. In case of citation or if you need some furhter information, please feel free to mail me or one of the other groupmembers.

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