The Future of Entertainment series by iQ by Intel and PSFK Labs is highlighting the latest in entertainment innovation. Over the course of 10 weeks at iq.intel.com, we are showcasing new products, services and technologies, exploring the changing face of how we consume, share and create content and getting reactions from Intel experts.
As we continue to investigate the Cross World Play trend, we will look at Disney’s newest and most ambitious gaming platform to date, which is taking the best of child’s free play and enhancing it with the power of technology. The trend looks at a new form of play that combines digital content and interfaces with physical toys to create fun and engaging entertainment experiences.
Disney Infinity is a cross-platform, open-world, video game replete with real world figurines and endless customizable, user-generated content options. The set up of the game is two-fold: there is Play Set mode and Toy Box mode. Play Sets are traditional story-driven video game experiences that give children the ability to choose their favorite character and explore that character’s associated world. The Infinity starter pack features The Incredibles, Monsters University and Pirates of the Caribbean Play Sets.
The Disney Infinity play experience gets truly interesting, when kids choose the Toy Box feature – it is here, where children’s imaginations can push the boundaries. In the Toy Box, players can build virtual worlds, where characters from different Disney movies can inhabit the same space. The Lone Ranger can fly a spaceship with Captain Jack Sparrow, and Mr. Incredible can build a castle with Sulley from Monsters Inc. Given the nearly endless creativity of children, the only real limiting factor is the time until their next sugar crash. “The inspiration for free-play came from playing with our own kids,” says John Lasseter, CCO of Disney and Pixar in a behind-the-scenes video. “It’s like a kids room – you can just do whatever you want, if you can think of it, you can create it.”
Play Sets and Toy Box are interlinked through Disney’s clever (from a revenue standpoint) decision to incorporate physical character figurines as part of the game play experience. The toys are placed onto an Infinity power base that plugs into a gaming console, generating a virtual counterpart inside the game world. In Play Set mode, kids complete challenges to unlock special powers, characters and accessories that can then be used in Toy Box mode. When a figurine is placed on special power disc, the associated character receives unique skills, customizations and gadgets that can be accessed inside the Toy Box. It also provides a toy that children can play with outside the context of the video game, adding a physical element that is important to the experience.
Pointing to the larger implications of the Infinity platform, Lasseter told Fast Company, “It’s not just fun--it’s important for us to do, because for kids to spend hours playing the video game, a lot of people look at it as a mindless waste of time for kids. How exciting is it to have this really fun, inventive platform where the most fun thing in the game is for kids to be creative and to build and to think about it and to try things and experiment and to iterate and to try it and get excited? To be able to give that to kids in a form they love--video games--I thought: This is noble. This is something to fight for. This is something to get out there."
Disney Infinity is a video game with one foot in the technological world and another in the real world. The Toy Box feature allows kids to do what they do best, and play without any constraints. It allows for creativity, and has multiple layers of interactivity to ensure that kids never tire of the fictional universe. It is a perfect iteration of our Cross World Play trend. Check in tomorrow as PSFK and iQ continue to explore how the next generation of toys will appeal to the children of the digital age.
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