Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Another brick in the wall...

B., like me, loves Legos.

But his pleasure is mixed with pain.

Most of his sets are themed, one-way efforts -- build a particular helicopter or construct some specific diorama. He prizes these; more so if they involve Star Wars. They make him miserable; most are still just slightly out of his reach, so he's left with a half-dozen sets in various phases of constructions, most of which with some missing pieces from the orgasmic initial few moments when he tore open the box. The Legos he has fun with are the generic unbranded, unplanned bricks. I bring all this up because I'm really feeling his pain. I want his room clean, yet his idea of room cleaning involves beginning to assemble a lego kit. He fails, leaves it on the floor or the table, and the room is messier than other. I also bring this up because it's something of global problem, one that says something about how kids live today:

In the United States, Lego’s biggest market and the biggest toy market in the world, games with themes like “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” were among the reasons Lego sales jumped 32 percent last year, well above the global pace. But experts like Dr. Jonathan Sinowitz, a New York psychologist who also runs a psychological services company, Diagnostics, wonders at what price these sales come.
“What Lego loses is what makes it so special,” he says. “When you have a less structured, less themed set, kids have the ability to start from scratch. When you have kids playing out Indiana Jones, they’re playing out Hollywood’s imagination, not their own.”
Even toy analysts who admire the company and its recent success acknowledge a broad shift. “I would like to see more open-ended play like when we were kids,” says Gerrick Johnson, a toy analyst at BMO Capital Markets in New York. “The vast majority is theme-based, and when you go into Toys “R” Us, you’d really be challenged to find a simple box of bricks.”
(via Kottke)

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