We all have a child inside . A child who sometimes wakes up from his lethargy and makes us go back to our earliest childhood.
They say that electric trains are the best example of a toy that, although it is designed for children, it is the parents who end up playing with them. Why are there parents who play with their children’s toys but without them or when they are not?
An “improper” toy of maturity
José Antonio Tamayo psychologist explains that when we talk about toys, most of us think of objects destined to the entertainment and enjoyment of children, forgetting that they can also contribute to the development of physical, psychological and social capacities; as it is included in the RAE in its recent (expanded) definition of the term. “But even assuming that broader definition of a toy, we still attribute it to a childlike character, perhaps unfit for adulthood or adulthood . Surely it is a social convention, the same that separates adults from the game as they pass adolescence and that assigns them the leisure activities that are appropriate for “older”.
However, and excepting perhaps the toys aimed at children (0-6 years) “in which the stimulation of sensory and psychomotor functions prevails”, this expert considers that toys are usually subordinated to a game (that is, they are instruments that serve a regulated recreational activity) “and it is this playful component that can entertain and relax people of any age. In this sense, there is a classic book of 1938, “Homo Ludens”, which raises the importance of the game in human development, as well as in the formation of culture, which is considered consubstantial.
Gamers grow up and become parents
One of the best current examples of toys that, in principle, could be proposed for children, but many parents who not only play with them, but also ask the Three Wise Men, are the consoles and video games . And, among these titles, perhaps the sports (especially football) take the cake.
“A lot of this new generation of parents have been gamers and have grown culturally with the videogame world , which is at their fingertips, as it is still part of the childhood entertainment of these parents. Although the personal situation has changed, they have expanded the family, they work instead of studying, there is something that remains: the video game, “explains Yeray Romera, Head of Product Marketing at EA Sports .
In addition, this responsible considers that, in the specific case of the game, there is a great work of the industry, along with all the associations and all the videogame companies, so that these products are no longer a taboo element. “The videogame is no longer seen as a system of alienation of the individual to be a form of entertainment . These parents still have that youth and that child that we all carry inside and still want to play with this form of entertainment. Without falling into excesses, taking a measured terrain, the video game is a healthy and familiar entertainment, and it is good for parents to play with children’s toys, “says Yeray Romera.
Strengthening the family
Moreover, from EA Sports a brief review is made of the evolution of video games in the last ten years, which have gone from being solitary toys, for a single individual, to being a more social and sharing element in families .
Since the launch of various consoles (which were a real revolution since the whole family could gather around them to play), this electronic entertainment has evolved into multiplayer games between parents, children, friends and another family.
“Like any digital element,” says Romera, ” Internet connections have also revolutionized the game . We have also created social networks in the field of video games and video games help us to set up a social network of virtual football, which allows you to connect with other family and friends from all over the world. We think it’s quite positive and healthy for everyone to play together. “
But what makes us play as if we were children?
What influences (both from the point of view of the game and the person) for these situations to occur? Is it more in men or in women, in some kind of game like sports?
On the one hand, the characteristics of the toy and of the game influence: that it supposes a challenge, that it can surprise (certain unpredictability in the result), that puts to the test the capacities of the player, that maintains the tension until the final result, to mention some . Claudia Gabriela, Brand Manager of Lego , believes that although, in general, toys are for children “there are many parents who spend time playing with them. We have many product ranges that are more focused on this type of age range. “
In this sense, there are many manufacturers who adopt their product lines so that parents can order these “toys”. They are perhaps more expensive products or, as in the case of video games, they involve being able to pay for extras. ” Although there may be a theme of nostalgia, in most cases it can be said that they are very entertaining toys that allow you to concentrate very well, ” says the head of Lego.
Responding to the question of what influences that, as adults, we play as true children, we must talk about the characteristics of the player. “In addition to the gender differences (it seems that men, in front of more women, continue to prefer games of sports content or in which physical abilities are deployed), there would be individual preferences according to their tastes, interests and childhood memories”, explains the psychologist José Antonio Tamayo. ” Sometimes adults feel predilection for toys that had a special meaning in their childhood , either by bringing them back to their lives or by satisfying a frustrated wish (eg The Scalextric or the doll house that the Kings never brought, …) “
In the opinion of this expert, we can not ignore “the fashions, advertising campaigns, which can affect equally, or differentially, men and women. Recall the “boom” of the consoles and their games, with its wide range (eg Wii, Play Station), as well as the return of the “classics” (eg arcade games: Pac-Man, Pang, Supermario, Donkey Kong) ” .
How to entertain children and adults alike?
However, having a toy that entertains children and adults alike is not easy . The intellectual and psychomotor skills are not the same with 5 or 18 or 35. What challenges does it pose to make a toy that entertains and challenges a child without surrendering because it is impossible to reach the milestones but at the same time time, be attractive enough for the father to engage in the game because he also poses a challenge?
For the Brand Manager of Lego, there are products that are labeled for an age range between four and 99 years “because there are many adults who are still having fun with this games”. However, they also have products aimed at older people, such as Lego Arquitechture, with which the skyscrapers of some of the most emblematic cities can be built . “The difference between games for adults and children is the difficulty to make this type of construction” although from the age of 16 there is usually not much difference in the manufacture of this type of games.
In the case of video games, for developers it can be a real challenge to design a video game that is fun for a child and at the same time not boring for an adult . “For those younger children there are more intuitive and quicker tips on actions, while the big player who has much bigger expectations has other levels of play available. We also have to take into account those parents who, although they have been young players, now have not been in front of a video game for many years. Here comes into play a lot of trial and error, “explains Yeray Romera,” and you have to do a lot of tests trying to make the experience as wide as possible, without decaffeinating that experience for any of those target audiences that the game is aimed at ” .
New options and game modes such as tutorial, training or training for those players who are not so expert or so skilled are some of the solutions so they can train and develop their skills. Not in vain, we must bear in mind that, according to Romera, “the world of sports in video games, and more specifically in football, is where the public is much more massive. We are talking here that everyone enters the game, from three to more than 60 years. “
Toys for adults thought by fans
It is undeniable that there is therefore a market for toys for the elderly. For this reason, for example, there are initiatives such as Lego Ideas , a program in which everyone can give their ideas about what they would like to see as a real toy. “One of the products that has been proposed by a fan and that has been a success is Lego Minecraft or Big Bang Theory”, says Claudia Gabriela.
Of course, both the game, as any other activity, can become a problem “when it interferes with other facets of the normal functioning of the person ; that is, when it does not allow it to meet its obligations in the academic, labor, social, and family spheres; or when there are problems to be able to control their performance (more is played than desired, for longer, putting it before other needs), “José Antonio Tamayo states.