Creative Play Cards – for the digital native child

Abstract

Children are natural born storytellers, explorers and confident makers. The problem, as Picasso famously said, is how to remain an artist once we grow up. This has never been more true than for today’s children, who are growing up in a world mediated by digital technology. As children increasingly choose digital experiences over creative activities and as creativity levels decline with each new generation of kids, this project is an exploration into how digital interaction can enhance creative play.

The result, Creative Play Cards, is a creativity boosting app that takes inspiration from design thinking methodology to equip little makers with the playful tools of applied creativity. Kids select from 3 decks of interactive flash cards that provide short exercises to provoke new ways of seeing, thinking, making and reflecting through play.

Inspiration and Method

It is widely accepted that creative free play is the most valuable of play experiences. However, with play time increasingly becoming digital, how can we ensure children the same quality of developmentally beneficial play that is offered by traditional modalities of toy? The general consensus among pediatricians is that digital games and entertainment experiences are considered unhealthy replacements for natural, free play. Not only do they simply reduce the time children engage in healthy activities, they actively restrict the child’s curiosity, imagination and creativity during interaction. This is because by nature of the digital medium, the child must follow a path of interaction where the play has already been predefined. The child becomes the consumer of an experience as opposed to the creator of play. In this thesis I explore how digitally interactive play can become a beneficial addition to the child’s creative play environment.

Result

Creative Play Cards is a tablet app that is built on an open, free play structure. The game is designed to expand kids’ creativity by helping them progress beyond routine ways of thinking and creating. 3 decks of interactive flash cards are provided under the guidance of a 'Creative Genius' character, who’s short exercises and provocations inspire and support creative thinking.

The first deck, ‘Challenge' suggests open-ended activities which act as the child’s spark of inspiration. Next, the ‘Story' deck encourages kids to build a context around their activity using 4 storytelling cards that contain abstract pictures, incomplete text descriptions and ambiguous noises to trigger the imagination. The third deck, 'Create', supports creative thinking with 4 action cards to provoke new ways of seeing, thinking, making and reflecting through play. With a 'Show + Tell' section the steps of play are recalled, empowering kids with the ability to immerse others in their experience by reviewing the sounds, pictures and provocations – inviting meaningful conversations that go beyond the created object.