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To think like a child, we must play like one. We understood from observation that children have no inhibitions when it comes to play, they do not see something as having only one use or even if they do they will not necessary think like that. As adults we have grown up with preconceived perceptions of the world and we believe everything has a function, but children do not limit themselves in the way.
As a group we took some time to play and interact with some simple toys and objects that weren't necessarily recognized as toys, such as the pegs, but understanding how exactly children made a functional item that has one specific job into a play thing.
We found we enjoyed a range of different features: the colours, the contrast between organic and rigid shapes, the different materials, especially the wood, the noises, the feedback but what we found as a whole with the objects is that they each rewarded us in very specific and unique ways. Some of us enjoyed the sounds most, some the tactlessness, some the colours - we each found joy in more ways than one.
One of the items we enjoyed the most were the Legos and stacking cups. We found a correlating feeling of achievement when building something but in contrast to the achievement we felt when playing competitive games, this achievement was much more personal.The emotions we feel when playing with toys are very subtle and sometimes it can be easy to under-estimate the pleasure we receive from them.
We felt nostalgia played a large part in our joy factor, recognizing simple shapes and objects that we may have once played with allowed us to have some preconceived use of it. Although we liked that, we wanted to only touch on that memory but give way for new uses and interpretations for the toy.
We like the simplicity of the toys we played with and their shapes and memories connecting to our childhood so we will be using the same toys as inspiration for our concept. If you haven't played with some building blocks today, you probably should.
In our difficult challenge to recreate the adult toy, as a group we needed to discover what exactly it was that adults wanted and how could replicate that want into something from their childhood. We had discovered there was some firm feelings of nostalgia associated with toys from childhood and knew we wanted to include that in our final design, however we still couldn't depart from the initial thoughts associated with the term 'adult toy'. Surely adults can experience pleasure through more than just sex?
We started to consider what 'pleasure' truly is and the truth is pleasure is purely subjective. Pleasure is a range of mental states that can include 'happiness, entertainment, enjoyment, ecstasy, euphoria' which can be derived from basic biological needs like eating, exercise, hygiene and, yes, you've guessed it, sex as well as cultural activities such as art, music, dancing, literature. The pleasure seems to be the reward of the things we do.
If the reward in a game is the victory, is the reward in a toy the pleasure of play?
There are a host of different interpretations for pleasure and a lot have trouble pin-pointing exactly what it is, most likely because it is a subjective concept, emotion or state. Philosophers such as Epicurus defined pleasure as the absence of suffering, Razi categorised pleasure into sensuous and intellectual and Schopenhauer saw pleasure as a negative sensation. The interpretation that stood out to me the most was Razi's who concluded that human needs and desires are endless, and because of the quote that stood alongside it 'their satisfaction is by definition impossible'. That word 'satisfaction' starting the cogs turning.
We all find different things satisfying and sometimes we even label them as 'oddly satisfying' as we cannot explain exactly what we enjoy. When I think of satisfying things, I am reminded of those videos, like the one below, that show glass blowing, wood turning, tactile objects, bright colours, rotating shapes, symmetry and a whole host of other random compilations that I find myself hypnotised watching.
I think of shows like How Its Made showing processes simultaneous repeated by machines created products that are all exactly alike.
I think of Planet Earth, David Attenborough’s soft-spoken voice, beautiful helicopter scenery shots of nature’s beauty, colours, shapes, close-up angles of creatures that I can almost feel their breath, touch their fur and am in the moment with them and we are the viewers are sharing that experience.
So why do these videos have millions of views? Is it the sensory satisfaction, the process, the visual colours, the movement, the symmetry, the vibrancy, the anticipation? As I mentioned early it would be hard to pin point exactly what it is that we find pleasurable in videos or images such as the ones presented because the pleasure is so subjective. Therefore, to create a product that is satisfying and considers these emotions we need to explore all aspects.
A successful adult toy for us, emulates the nostalgia of childhood but replicates the satisfaction we search for in adulthood. This should be interesting.
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