they want to connect, which raises several important questions: Can digital play lead to the developmental advantages of traditional play? Do different types of digital play produce different effects? Do open-ended digital games replicate traditional free play? Neither expert had the answers to these questions, but they both acknowledged the need for further research in this area. The type of thinking that goes into creating a product is just as important as the academic research that propels the study of play forward. IDEO, a company that has built “design thinking” into its culture, creates solutions by bringing together what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. The strategy allows people who aren’t formally trained as designers to use creative tools to explore a wide range of challenges. Basically, design thinking is a strategy to solve complex problems. It can be effectively used to explore any product in your wheelhouse. It has three components: 1. Inspiration: Define the problem. Look at what needs to be solved.
2. Ideation: Consider multiple solutions. We need to rethink our models of underJust as the PlayMatrix looks at play from difstanding play—and our approaches—so ferent perspectives, when that we can use better insights when crecreating a product, innovators ating products and services that can have need to look at solutions from the greatest impact.” various angles. Collaboration helps. Design thinking suggests that results are better when five IDEO team needed to promote active play in people work together on a problem for one a compelling way. An “I did it” moment and day, rather than when one person works for having kids show others how to play confive days. Ideation also takes time. It generfirmed the fun. ates ideas that need to be developed and Play motivates. It engages. It teaches. tested over and over again. It’s the way kids have always learned to Michelle Lee, digital kids lead at IDEO, make sense of the world, and a way parents described the design thinking used when can connect with their kids. As technology her team created a new app for Apple TV. infiltrates more aspects of play, our goal is The problem they tackled was turning the to promote the research and methodologies engagement of a passive medium (TV) into that make it work. But in the same way that a physical activity. Kids were tested in real we now look at play from multiple platforms, situations to figure out what worked. The the research behind play has to be just as remote and TV experiences were significantly multi-dimensional. » different from kids playing on an iPad. Trial and error were key. Just as play helps kids Wendy Smolen is the senior vice learn from their mistakes, designers had to be president of Sandbox Events and open to failure, too. playpublisher at PlayScience, a 3. Implementation: Move from project to global insights and strategy comprototype to product. IDEO has three rules pany that creates new consumer for prototyping: Make it rough, make it rapid, experiences in play, learning, and make it right. Defining what success looked entertainment. like was critical. The finished app from the
TOYBOOK.COM | May/June 2016 | THE TOY BOOK 79
Many of us are traveling to Denver for the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA’s) Marketplace & Academy trade show, and in...