Exploring the phygital : an assessment of modern play objects : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The rise in household electronics, video games and computers - coupled with a parental perception that unguided outdoor play is unsafe - has led to an increase in children playing alone indoors (Gray, 2011). The result of this is a decrease in time spent engaging in spontaneous, unstructured play. Play theorists Burdette and Whitaker, (2006) find this concerning, as the decrease of unstructured playtime can present serious issues for the cognitive, emotional, physical and social development of children. This change in the way children are playing is a result of the industry creating new types of play-objects and experiences; integrating physical and digital elements known as phygital play-objects (Trautman, 2014). Through my observation, the resulting play experiences for children lack balance. I have conceived the term balanced play to reflect my goal for Phygital play experiences, where the benefits of that play are spread equally across the areas of cognitive, emotional, physical and social development. This investigation explores the benefits of play. Then uses this to form a guideline for balanced play experiences. It identifies the developmental stage of six to nine year olds and the ways a decline in play potentially affects their development. From this research, I produce a framework for assessing balanced play experiences when children use phygital play-objects. This is achieved via the presentation of a design assessment tool and a balanced phygital play-object of my design created using this tool.
Toys, Electronic toys, Design and construction, Play, Play assessment (Child psychology)