Toys send messages to children. They aid in their development and understanding of the greater world. By offering a gateway to explore and imagine, toys allow kids to uniquely become themselves. However, without representation of every type of kid, is the message weakened?
With companies like Mattel diversifying their toy brands through identity, race, profession, gender and accessibility, a standard of inclusion across the industry should be adopted by all.
Children will now have an immersive experience to play and learn about themselves and others at Legotropolis.
Conceptual Thinking and Strategy | User Research | Spatial Design and Research | UX/UI | Experience Design and Strategy
2021 FUTURE LIONS ASK
Unlock kids' potential through LEGO play.
Children don’t see themselves in their toys which limits their potential and view of the greater world.
My son is blind and I never wanted that to be an obstacle in his life. Finding games and toys that he could use were hard, but worthwhile.
— Lance, Dad of Three
It means so much to me to see a Barbie that isn’t one size fit all because in reality everyone is so different. I want my future kiddos to understand that one day.
— Kelly, Aunt of One
Wheelchairs are normal. That is what my daughter understands when she plays with her favorite doll, Cynthia, who has her own.
— Palmer, Mom of Six
I want to be a doctor like Doc McStuffins.
— Mia, Kindergartener
Take a renowned brand like LEGO who positions their users as the Builders of Tomorrow and expand what it means to build both intellectually and physically.
Legotropolis, an immersive storytelling experience, takes users on a journey to save the city. By prompting them to design their own custom minifigure in their own likeness, users learn how their unique perspective is a building tool of its own.
Legotropolis will exist as a travelling exhibit where visitors are able to immerse in the world of the LEGO-themed city.
This exhibit is crafted and modeled after children’s museums that champion an open floor plan, interactivity and hands-on learning. Although child-centered, this exhibit is open to LEGO enthusiasts of all ages and parents that accompany their children are also encouraged to participate.
WHO THIS SERVES
To get into the mindset of visitors, we gathered research to create varying user personas with unique goals, needs and pain points.
To get a better understanding,
click their photos to view their full personas.
Haven is going to the LEGO exhibit with her Science Olympiad team.
Brandon has anticipated the arrival of the LEGO exhibit and is going with his mom.
Danielle is taking her two children to the exhibit as a weekend excursion.
To best follow through this immersive experience,
we will be navigating it through Brandon’s perspective.
Visitors will receive an RFID wristband upon entry to the exhibit. These wristbands contain electronic tags that track and collect data. This will be vital as visitors scan their wristband at every station to create their LEGO minifigure.
As visitors enter Legotropolis, they are greeted by the city’s mayor who is in need of help. Speakers are also activated to announce the message when visitors are within six feet of the mayor.
At each station of the exhibit, visitors will learn about the different people that inhabit Legotropolis and what they can learn from them to save the city from boredom. The stations serve as a teaching point to understand different types of bodies and their importance. As visitors navigate the exhibit, they will be virtually creating their own LEGO minifigure to have as a keepsake from their mission.
Visitors scan their faces and become “LEGOized” which means all skin colors and skin conditions are generated on the head of the minifigure.
Visitors are offered a selection of hair types ranging from 1 to 4c, along with head covering options.
Visitors are offered a variety of accessibility options that consider all ways that they might navigate through the world.
Visitors express their style by choosing and designing clothes for their minifigure.
After visitors have learned about the people of Legotropolis and have created their minifigure, they have to complete their mission of saving the city. In the LEGO University Laboratory, visitors are tasked to build with their recent learnings in mind. Upon completion, they are given the option to scan their creation in a 3D scanner.
In addition to a digital screen that informs visitors when their minifigure is ready, they will also be signaled through their RFID wristband. Visitors will receive their minifigure in a branded LEGO carrying case that doubles as a building platform for later use.
To commemorate their mission and time spent in Legotropolis, visitors are able to take a picture with the mayor upon their exit.
HOW LEGOTROPOLIS WORKS
To create a seamless experience and best manage crowd control, all reservations are to be made ahead of time on the exhibit’s website. Visitors will choose an available time slot that is limited to 30 people and will be charged $30 per person.
Upon entry to the exhibit, visitors will receive their RFID wristband with their information encoded from their reservation.
One major goal of the space was not only to include more options for representation, but also to encourage acceptance, and create a sense of pride and fulfillment for children who aren’t usually represented by their toys.
We accomplished this through the guiding principle of "designing to the edges."
Designing to the edges is an approach that rejects the idea that things should be created for the average human but should rather consider the full range of characteristics, traits, abilities and interests of all (Spacey, 2016).
By committing to foster accessible design within the exhibit, we took tours of the Children’s Museum of Richmond and the Science Museum of Virginia in order to gain further understanding of what this standard would require. We created an open, linear floor plan to guide visitors through the experience and foster parallel play.
To get lost in the city of Legotropolis, each LEGO brick in the exhibit is a foot tall to ensure full immersion for each visitor. The kiosks at each station are different heights to accommodate height differences and ensure accessibility.
LEGO minifigures are yellow because they’re designed to be “citizens of the world”; however, it is a common misconception that the minifigures are white
(Washington Post, 2015). After taking a survey of past and existing designs of minifigures, the skin tone, hair color and hair textures are limited and often favor a specific demographic. Along with the above features, accessibility options have slowly been introduced.LEGO introduced its first disabled minifigure in 2016 (CNN, 2016).
With these concerns in mind, we designed the customization process to reflect a variety of people and how they uniquely inhabit the world.
Having surveyed various interfaces that champion inclusivity, we analyzed the process from the perspectives of our user personas.
To ensure all features were represented, we modeled a “LEGOIZE” feature that employs facial scanning similar to the feature in iOS to set up Face ID recognition. Skin tone is automatically selected from the scan and facial attributes like vitiligo, freckles and scars are printed on the heads.
In the hair and head covering station, we lead the options with hairstyles that are more kinky, coily, curly and wavy to take a break from the interfaces that often arrange hair patterns from 1 to 4c.
When selecting body types, we aimed to eliminate any alienation when it came to selecting by letting visitors choose their accessibility options as they simultaneously created themselves.
Our main goal was to establish basic understanding of, and respect for each others’ differences. Much of this message was conveyed through the exhibit signage that introduced different characters who live in Legotropolis. We gave a personality and characteristics to each character to introduce context and further learn about them.
We researched how to communicate to children about our differences, and read different kids’ books like Zahrah’s Hijab that teach about diversity and respect.