My colleague Scott Traylor of 360 Kid regularly writes thoughtful and timely pieces about kids, toys and digital media, and his latest article for the May 2009 issue of Playthings Magazine is no exception. What Works For Virtual Play? – Questions to Ask About Web-enabled Toys takes a deep dive into play patterns of toys tied to virtual worlds:
When toy companies talk about new toy products, there’s often a lot of discussion around a toy’s play patterns. What is it about the toy that resonates with a child? What play patterns will the toy tap into? Will the play pattern extend across age and gender differences?
Sometimes answering play pattern questions like these are pretty straight forward, other times their answers are not as clear cut. Potentially even more complicated is describing the play pattern around a toy product tied to a virtual world or online experience.
What kind of play pattern are we talking about now? How does the play experience through an avatar in an online world differ from that of a child playing with a physical toy in the real world? These are hard questions to answer, but they are ones I’m betting more and more people will be asking in the world of youth marketing.