Toy Awesomeness Part 1: Multiple Play Levels

game about human biology for five 5, six 6, seven 7 eight 8, nine 9, ten 10, eleven 11, twelve 12 year olds and upHow to make a great toy part 1: Include Multiple levels of play

A key component in any good toy is finding a way to ensure that adding more people will somehow amp up the play. Sometimes this is as simple as adding a player to change (for example) a game/puzzle from a solitaire challenge into a competition. However there are other important ways in which a toy can gain something special by the addition of extra players.

For example, consider how different even a fairly basic colouring book can become when you add a parent (or another older individual). Suddenly the child gets the chance to learn new artistic skills that they may not have tried before, on top of this they’ve gained a contributor that can add features to the picture that the child may not have been able to accomplish themselves (‘Daddy can you put a dragon in flying over the house’).

If a toy lacks this, it becomes more solitary, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with solitary toys it’s just that the toy designer has missed an opportunity. With little to no extra components being added to the physical toy/game/puzzle etc. a whole new playing experience could potentially be opened up by simply paying attention to who else might join in when the toy is being played with, and designing the toy with this in mind.

Perfect Example:Anatomix‘ (pictured at the top of this post), this is a game about the human body by Green Board Games, which has two levels of challenge; the basic game is aimed at kids aged 5 and up but you can also add in a quiz component aimed at taxing the minds of children aged 12 and up.

What toys/games/puzzles have you come across that hit a new level when you add more players? Are there any other features that you think add something special to the playing experience a child has from a toy? As always comments are more than welcome, ether on here or over on my twitter account. Thanks for stopping by at John The Toy Shop Guy, if you’d like to receive future posts in your e-mail inbox you can enter your details in the ‘subscribe’ box to the right of this post.

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5 comments on “Toy Awesomeness Part 1: Multiple Play Levels

  1. ksbeth says:

    when teaching my kindergarten (4s and 5s) i put them on the big rug with unlimited use of our giant collection of wood blocks. at the beginning of the year, most play in a parallel way and it’s great fun to watch them begin to share, negotiate, and work together to build bigger and better projects as the year goes on and they mature. i never show them the directions or pics of things to build with any of my building toys: legos, mobilos, knex, etc., i like to see what they can come up with and some kids get upset if what they build doesn’t ‘look like the picture.’

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    • John says:

      The disappointment at not matching the picture was something I didn’t even consider. All the more reason to let them run free with their blocks. Out of interest have you ever come across parents who glue? I find it such an odd phenomenon I still can’t really get my head round it. 😛

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