toys keep adults young

Posted by moldmaking on June 6th, 2018

Welcome to the world of toys 2.0. Toys used to be: boats and dolls of pieces of wood and rope gathered together.

Then each child got his own plastic factory-made block, meccano or Lego box. And now there is, for example, Lego Mindstorms, in which the fans themselves are involved in the development of new types of Legor robots. Toys has experienced a similar development to the internet, says historian Maaike Lauwaert. "It starts with one to one, similar to e-mail. The next step is one to many, as with websites that are accessible to everyone. And now that the technology allows it, you get that many people can work together on one site, like wikipedia: many to many. "Lauwaert will receive her PhD next week, on 27 March, at Maastricht University on her research into the influence of technology on especially construction toys such as Lego and the Sims computer games. She did archival research (old magazines, for example from toy traders' associations), interviewed players and played a lot with Lego and Sims, in order to get the technique of the construction toys themselves too.

Why construction toys?

"Because that has a long history, and also because it is a mirror of technological developments in society, ever since the industrial revolution. At that time there were toys made of steel, meccano-like plates with many holes, which you could attach to each other with a screw and bolt. 
This allowed realistic, complex constructions to be made, things that resembled what could be seen in the changing city. That way boys could undergo what their fathers underwent was the idea. There was a tremendous fascination for engineering at the time - an engineer was a hero, a vision of what you could achieve.
Boys could not start building bridges early enough. "And girls then?"They played with other things, which you can hardly call toys. Broze, fragile dolls, where you certainly could not do anything too bad. Tere tea dishes.
Dollhouses. And at some point also stoves where you could really cook, small irons, real working ovens. Toys certainly reflected the division of roles between the sexes until the seventies of the last century. And actually still - you only have to go to a toy store to see it. "You write that the modern toy was also meant to keep children safe. But there is always football on the street - by boys then?"Yes, but also outside, people have tried, not always successful, to tame or socialize children and their play. In playgrounds, for example, you had superintendents who were specially trained to make children play 'well'. Just kicking a ball was not stimulated. "The types of toys you describe as main examples, Lego, luco wooden toy bricks and Sims, are both popular with adults.
"Yes that's right. There have been several clear historical shifts in who is playing. At the time of the industrial revolution it became acceptable for children to play, even if it was with a strong focus on edifying play. They then had to work less hard and were given free time to fill in. Often they also got a playroom. Playing for adults was even less acceptable at that time. That changed in the fifties of the last century, when a real leisure cult came into being. In British and American architecture magazines from that time were often floor plans of houses, with a large, open living room where a place for 'play space' was drawn. There adults could play Twister and drink cocktails. "And the children then?"They also played there. Open living rooms were often built, allowing the woman to supervise the game from the kitchen while devoting herself to domestic tasks. That was also a change. Previously, the living room was often a status place for the men; women had to go to the kitchen or the sewing room. But from the fifties men and women had no place to isolate themselves and they had to see it together, with the children. In addition, playing was very central. At that time, it was also accepted for adults to play. You often hear that children are getting younger and younger, but adults always stay young for longer. People no longer look up when a man of over 35 has his own Playstation. "In addition to Lego and Sims, you also describe the 'Face Your World' project by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk, in which citizens, adults and children, have jointly designed a park in the Amsterdam borough of Slotervaart."Yes, I wanted to show how this model of many to many works in the area of ​​policy and politics. It strengthens the bond between city government and city dweller. But it does not happen so often that it is also well executed. The design of this park is in any case ready, and accepted by the district. "

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