Undo-Replay: Gamifying Toy Waste
- Kathy Qian
Undo-Replay is a toolkit designed to encourage children to deconstruct and modify the toys they have outgrown. Dismembered toy parts gain new value as pieces for a tabletop game, where players create humorous “franken-toy” characters and narratives. Solo explorative play is also supported with “The Toy Surgeon’s Handbook”, which teaches children more permanent and transformative modification methods. Aimed at redirecting plastic toys from entering unsustainable waste streams, Undo-Replay uses gamification to activate children to make new value from waste products and foster habits of repair and repurposing.
Undo-Replay diverts toys from entering waste streams by intervening in the home. The elements introduce children to adult toy “modding” practises using only common household tools. Collaborative workshops and user testing were used throughout the development process for both solo and social play elements, which incorporate a variety of activities designed to appeal to children with different interests and skill sets, based on divisions in the adult hobbyist community. The structure intentionally places children in control of creating their own transferences of value, to strengthen sentimental bonds as they transform from user to creator of the object.
Considering the magnitude of the toy industry and the volume of plastic waste produced globally, banking unwanted toys in users’ homes through enabling an alternative use-life presents significant environmental impacts. By focusing on facilitating highly accessible activities, Undo-Replay allows any child to participate in practical sustainability. The physical components are designed primarily using compostable materials such as paper and wool felt, with minimal use of adhesives – “The Toy Surgeon’s Vice” relies instead on threads and tension for assembly. Aside from the optional use of a hairdryer, the Undo-Replay system requires no input besides waste and scrap objects during use.
Undo-Replay builds a child’s capacity to intervene in soon-to-be waste materials in a low-cost, local, environmentally efficient and engaging manner. Unparalleled in the field of sustainable products for children, its use of gameplay aims to engender lasting sustainable behaviours and tangible impacts to the flow of materials to waste streams. As international waste exports cease, new user-level tactics for managing Australia’s plastic waste are perhaps now more critical than ever. Internationally adaptable, Undo-Replay transforms waste objects with the user at home, without the use of additional energy from the typical collection, reprocessing, redistribution or administration systems.
Undo-Replay offers a new approach to managing plastic toy waste that is both highly accessible and energy efficient. By positioning toys as bankable hazards that are not an environmental risk until they are physically disposed of, the project identifies a vulnerable time period that is optimal for intervention. Between end of use and disposal, typically during the child’s adolescence, toys are often retired and stored for a few years in the home. By turning value transference into a social and playful process, Undo-Replay can create sustainable behaviour change and shifts in perspective on waste objects and the opportunities they present.
Interviews with toy modders identified a vice as the only specialty tool required for the hobby, particularly for safety.
An Instagram profile “Toy Surgeon Society” was included to increase potential impact. Using a platform already integrated in users’ daily lives allows them to subscribe to continual activation of the structure – through weekly prompts, tutorials, and inspiration from across the toy hobbyist community.
The Undo-Replay game was evaluated with participants 6-60yrs who all found it engaging and simple to learn. The combination of character and narrative-building prompts saw adults actively engage in a play pattern that is typically outgrown by adolescence.