A history of toys and games
Children have long been known to play with objects they find. For example pebbles and sticks. Toys and games have been found from the archaeological sites of ancient civilizations. Toys brought up to the surface from the Indus valley civilization (3000-1500 BCE) included whistles shaped like birds and toy monkeys which could slide down a string.
Because there were no man made materials or parts to piece together, materials were taken from nature, such as sticks, clay and rocks. Thousands of years ago, children from Egypt would play with human like toys which had movable limbs that they could manipulate. They were made using materials such as stone, pottery and wood. In Ancient Rome and Greece children played with toys that were made out of wax, terracotta or wood such as yo-yo's. On the eve of a young woman's wedding in Greece, they would offer their dolls in a Greek temple as a rite of passage into adulthood.
Over the past one hundred years, children's toys have changed a great deal. Children can now enjoy listening to the sound of their favourite action hero talk to them and make their limbs move with the touch of a button. Now that toys are more immersive, children have a more personalized experience. Although some would argue that the simplicity of earlier toys was better because children playing with them would have to use their own imagination, rather than being fed information by the toy itself. The materials used have changed dramatically, to include plastics and other man made materials, which are used to save money on production and give the child a more life like toy. Barbie dolls and Action man are still the most popular dolls sold in the UK and around the world. Because many things have been commercially exploited, advertisers have almost brainwash children into wanting certain toys. Guides like this and other sources such as books and documentaries can encourage a child to make their own mind up about whether they want a toy that everybody else has. This allows the child to be more creative and make one of his or her own.
The change in the creation of toy making and the realization that children wanted to play with a friend rather than an inanimate object made humans realize that they should be focusing more time on making dolls. Original dolls from thousands of years ago were made out of materials such as wood, grass and straw. Today toys have grown dramatically in complexity and versatility which can make the product even more enjoyable for the user. Robots are popular and because of recent technological advancements in robotics some toys can even talk to the user as though having a conversation. Although some of these toys are quite creepy we will have to get use to technology becoming more of a part of our lives. The materials have changed but one thing that has never changed, is that children will continue to play with toys.
Ludwig Wittgenstien was the first academic philosopher to understand and express the definition of the word game. In his Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein demonstrated that the elements of games, such as play, rules, and competition, all fail to define what games actually are. Wittgenstein concluded that people apply the term game to a range of disparate human activities that bear to one another only what one might call family resemblances.
Tools of the trade
Depending on the type of material you use the tools will differ but as a simple example we will talk about the different tools used to make a simple chess set.
You could begin by making a mock up design. This way it's cheaper than creating the actual thing to start with. For this you will need simple tools such as metal rulers, glues and masking tape. This way you can create a simple cardboard or paper mock up that is sturdy and fun to play with.
For the actual creation of your chess set be as creative as possible. The rules are already set and they can't be changed, but the surrounding layer of the board can. For example you might want to be able to hide the pieces in a draw underneath the board, you may want led light shining around the edge of your board or you might want your pieces to resemble famous monuments or people. Whatever you want to do your going to need the appropriate tools to help you achieve your goal.
Wood glue will probably be the most used on a project such as this and it will help to firmly stick pieces of wood to each other for a sturdy finished product. Along with this you will need an array of saws such as junior hack saws and for ease an electric sander. These tools will help you get a polished design and that on lookers will appreciate. Power tools will also be needed when screwing parts together, so you may want to use a normal sized drill and for a more curved cut you may want to use a band saw or a scroll saw. You do have to remember these are extremely dangerous pieces of machinery, so should be used by a professional or under the supervision of somebody with experience. The use of power tools will increase productivity and help to ensure you get a good end result. This will also help when you are trying to get those smooth curves and edges.
Making the board game pieces and base can be quite a simple task. It is inventing the game itself that is the tricky part. But whether you are creating your own game or not, here are a few easy to manipulate materials that are commonly used in creating a simple well known board game.
Balsa wood is an easy to manipulate and light weight wood that you can easily carve and cut through. For example if you wanted to create chess pieces the balsa wood pieces would be a good way to start. For the base you would most likely use a more expensive wood like oak or pine to give it a more glazed and professional look.
Even simple materials such as cardboard or paper can be used to create fun games of toys. As children, most of us played popular games such as naught's and crosses or boxes and these games usually resided on a simple plain piece of paper. This proves that even if your material is the strongest and most expensive it doesn't mean that players will enjoy the game any more or less.
Tips and tricks
If you are creating a toy or game, understand who you are creating it for. Also don't try to be like every other toy out there. Although some toys and games will have technically advanced features it doesnt mean that your toy or game wont stand out amongst others.
Like any project make sure you have confidence in your designs and ideas. Don't just jump right into the project or you will find it difficult when things don't go to plan. Your first step is planning and you should not miss it out. Designing is also a fun part of any project, as it allows you to share ideas with close friends and family and make what could be the next must have game.
When you have completed the design you could create a mock up version. So rather than spending all your time and money on expensive materials and tools (if you don't have them already) you could create a simple cardboard or paper design and play around with it. In this way you can see it in front of you and work out what you could improve on and what what works and what does not.
Ideas and inspiration
Toys - the word is small, but it's meaning in gigantic. There are so many things that fall under toys, so really even if it's the simplest of ideas your toy could be treasured for a long time.
Why not have a go at creating your own game or toy, there are many conventions that will exhibit new talent. If your idea is well received, it might even end up on the shelves one day along with popular games such as Monopoly and Chess.