Free the Toys [Read more]
Opened Toyshop: An educational app game that teaches children about gender stereotypes
Opened Toyshop is a proof of concept for an app game that empowers young children to become aware of gender stereotypes without parental influence. The game does not have an end, but rather, an aim to encourage children to build their own ideas of gender beyond hegemonic structures. As a result, the main colours used in the game are orange, yellow and purple rather than pinks and blues, whilst saturated, origami styled illustrations, reminiscent of Chinese homemade toys, combine notions of the virtual with the material. To positively frame restrictions of screen time, the game's virtual day runs an hour long, by which point the Toyshop must close for the night. The images displayed on this page show stills from various areas of the game, whilst the video at the bottom shows a short walkthrough of its features.
The character design and environments were drawn using Adobe Illustrator and the user interface design and micro-interactions were put together in Adobe XD.
The Toyshop (Exterior)
The opening screen of the "Opened Toyshop" displays the colourful and playful exterior of the world children are soon to inhabit for the fulfilment of a virtual day's worth of play and work.
A variety of character presets are available for customisation including feminine and masculine characters, the full gamut of skin tones, and a spectrum of highly saturated hair colours.
The Toyshop (Interior)
The Toyshop's interior is designed to be an open plan, blank slate that will enable children to fully express themselves, most notably, the addition of toys. In addition to this, wall papers, carpets and furniture colours can be purchased to further explore the associations between gender and colour.
Children are offered the chance to decorate the toyshop's room with toys using the in-game currency. Ideas of masculinity and femininity are mixed as stereotypical colours are applied to their counterparts' toys, with gender neutral colours featuring on a majority of toys.
The Design Studio
The Design Studio is an opportunity for children to explore and experiment with ideas of identity through play. It offers children the opportunity to create and customise toys using colours and patterns to disrupt dominant notions of what boys or girls should play with and aspire to be. One of the designs will be selected periodically to be featured in the toy shop.
The Quiz Feature
One of the most important features of the app game is the quiz, where children's understanding of what gender stereotypes are and look like can be assessed and gauged. It couples with the news page that provides illustrated information on stereotypes and is incentivised by rewarding engagement and high scoring test results with in-game currency.
After studying Fashion Design, Yiduan decided to model an app to tackle issues of gender stereotypes within children.
Toys for children continue to be designed and marketed according to gender stereotypes. For example, action, construction, and technology-orientated toys are mainly sold to boys, whilst dolls, and activities such as playing the role of a house-wife are aimed at girls. Both boys and girls, however, can miss out on important experiences if their opportunities are limited by the types of toys they are expected to play with. This project aims to empower children to challenge gender stereotypes early on in life through the modelling of an app game, fusing Yiduan's interests in Fashion, Illustration and User Interface design to cater for a younger audience.
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