(The clunky building interface of Disney Infinity 1.0).
I recently gave two talks on toys-to-life games, platforms that combine traditional console-based play with NFC-enabled physical character figures. Both talks are components of my new project in development, which considers the history and theory of “animate toys.” In the first talk, which I presented at the 2015 Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, I examine how Disney Infinity defines and uses the notion of children’s creativity in its marketing and gameplay, arguing that there is a significant disconnect between the “unlimited” creativity and freedom the platform promises and its structural limitations.
UPDATE: A revised and extended version of this talk is forthcoming in the Fall 2016 issue The Velvet Light Trap.
The second talk, delivered at Rutgers’ second “Extending Play” conference, explores some of the underlying reasons reasons why TTL developers are interested in designing play experiences that cross the physical/digital divide. Here, I take a look at the various sanctioned and unsanctioned ways in which players choose to play with these systems.