I received a number of responses about my article, “Crap: Toy Fair is Cancelled.” One that spoke to me, and that I wanted to share with you came from Kurt Isensee. Kurt Isensee is not only a Copywriter, having worked at Wizards of the Coast (a division of Hasbro), but also an avid toy collector and industry observer. He is particularly interested in how toy manufacturing, packaging, and distribution, will adjust and evolve in a rapidly changing marketplace and social environment.
In the article, I had commented on my concern that younger people, digital natives, will grow up to be leaders in our industry without having the Toy Fair experience. Below are Kurt’s thoughts:
“They are digital natives who already discount physical contact. They will grow up to be leaders in our industry in which their seminal years were spent attending Zoom calls. Toy Fair will have far less emotional meaning for them.”
This is a salient point that goes beyond Toy Fair and predates Covid. Siloed people, staring at screens all day, including those occasions when they do venture outside. The selling and buying of toys is a tactile experience, and the joy and wonder of hands on discovery, cannot be replicated digitally/virtually.
I’ve worked SDCC and Gencon, and attended SDCC for 20 years (until Covid, of course). The energy in those convention halls simply cannot be replicated online. Not even close. As you noted, there are younger folks who may never know that experience, never have it “in their bones”, and that’s rather sad and dispiriting.
Of course, safety is paramount, even if it means that the life you and I knew (ie, older folks) is gone forever. There is a whole generation that grew up online, and they won’t know what they’re missing, which is kind of tragic. There is no easy solution, but a life devoid of large gatherings, of real face-to-face interactions, of meeting new people, is not much of a life.