The Place of Play

Toys and Digital Cultures

Maaike Lauwaert

The Place of Play
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Maaike Lauwaert

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

160 pages | 15 halftones | 6 3/10 x 9 1/2 | © 2009
Paper $32.95 ISBN: 9789089640802 Published September 2009 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada

Technology has come to dominate the world of toys and gaming. Given the immense popularity of computer games, as well as the increasing role played by the digital in childhood activities, it’s not surprising that the world of play has come to exist at the borders of technological production and consumption. The Place of Play takes on digital toys and computer games as a site for strategic research into the nature, characteristics, mechanisms, and problems at hand in our contemporary assessment of what it means to play. Maaike Lauwert centers her discussion on the “geography of play,” which comprises different aspects of play itself, including the design of a toy, the discourse surrounding it, and the ways in which it is actually used by its player.

William Uricchio, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Lauwaert puts participatory culture into perspective, mapping the geography of play across building games, design games and procedural games. She explores the generation-shaping capacities of games and offers a rich assessment of the move towards ‘many-to-many’ play forms. With this much needed intervention, Lauwaert also demonstrates the value of one-to-many scholarship.”




1. Changing Practices, Shifting Sites     

2. Core and Periphery of Play  


Part I: New Children, Different Toys    

3. The Child as Consumer        

4. Domesticating Play  

5. The Child in the City

6. Toys as Containers, Mediators and Promoters         


Part II: From Solitary to Networked Geographies of Play         

7. LEGO Toys: from Wooden Blocks to Plastic Bricks

8. Brand Extension & Product Differentiation   

9. Bringing the Fans into the Company 

10. Many-to-Many Geographies of Play          


Part III: Commercial Geographies of Play         

11. Toy Towns and Simulated Cities    

12. A 21st-century Dollhouse: The Sims           

13. Unwanted Play Practices in The Sims Online          

14. Commodified Geographies of Play 


Part IV: Serious Geographies of Play   

15. Participation Tools 

16. Participation Processes

17. Purposeful Play      

18. Serious Geographies of Play          



19. Changing Geographies of Play        

20. Making Do





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