Dice, a Deck of Cards, Blocks and More; why don’t we celebrate the original play platforms?


The concept of a “play platform” (think consoles, hand held devices, computers and more) is so tightly affixed to technology play formats that we forget that they actually predate the video game industry by thousands of years.
  Any system that allows various games to be played using it is ultimately a play platform. 


For example, dice and the ball, two of the earliest play platforms had their origins in uneaten animal leftovers.  Dice were made from the knucklebones of sheep (“roll them bones”) and balls were made from animal skins or bladders.  They allowed for a multitude of activities to be played.  Just think of how many games are based upon dice and balls.   Dice allow us to play anything from Craps to Dungeons and Dragons (not to mention their use as a randomizer in a countless number of games)  Balls are basis of anything from soccer to kick ball. 

Many play platforms came from the minds of creative men and women: 

  • Checker boards
  • Marbles
  • Playing cards
  • Chalk
  • Blocks
  • Clay
  • Ball
  • Dominoes
  • Dice

Some play platforms were derived from repurposed everyday objects: 

  • A piece of cardboard,
  • Pipe cleaners
  • A cardboard box
  • The sidewalk
  • The driveway
  • An empty spool of thread 

Others came from nature: 

  • A backyard
  • The beach
  • A tree

There are many more and I am sure that you can add to my list.  But here is my question; why does the toy industry treat its platforms so poorly and why is so little time spent on creating new ones?  That in my next posting.

3 thoughts

  1. Ludo is a strategy board game for two to four players, in which the players race their four tokens from start to finish according to the rolls of a single die. Like other cross and circle games

  2. Innovation engages consumers, which makes the whole delivery channel addicted to newness. But bread and milk are still the staples in a grocery store full of 40,000 items; and cards, dice, and blocks are still the staples in the game aisle.
    We don’t celebrate the staples but consumers still buy them more than most other things.
    In fact, playing cards might be the best-selling “game” of all time. On top of the basic deck, think of the commercialized variants of card play that dominate retail shelves: the most popular custom card games all have roots in playing card play dynamics…and the most popular dice game of all time is based on poker. We’ve tallied 50-60% of peggable retail game merchandise to be rooted in card game play types.
    So for all the emphasis on innovation, it seems that ideas that take small steps forward, not necessarily the big leaps. Things that are familiar to consumers at the core but with a fresh twist are more likely to truly engage shoppers.
    We make Square Shooters, a patented new game platform that combines cards and dice into one functional product with an ancient legacy (www.squareshooters.com). It’s a tribute to the inventor, Carmelyn Calvert, that that she thought of doing something that’s been sitting right in front of everyone’s nose for centuries. What other simple strokes of genius can these classic platforms deliver?

  3. I postulate that these things have not left the consciousness of children, rather they have been cleverly redefined. The great crazes of the last 10 years have all been based on something classic in one way or another: Beyblade are basically spinning tops, Bakugan are marbles, Kusabi from Tomy Japan are darts and Playmates made a go of a new dice game back in 2006 with Battle Dice.
    The key nowadays is to take an icon of play and innovate it in a meaningful way; one which keeps the integrity and familiarity of the icon intact while offering a surprising twist which modern kids can appreciate.
    This is the basis of much of my invention work…what are your icons of play?

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