MagiBricks: Fostering Intergenerational Connectedness in Distributed Play with Smart Toy Bricks
Playing together is crucial to the unique and invaluable bond be- tween grandparents and grandchildren. However, co-located interactions and play can be limited due to time, distance, or pandemic-related restrictions. To facilitate distributed play, we developed MagiBricks, a system comprised of 3D-printed smart toy bricks and baseplates that provide feedback regarding their placement. The familiarity and appeal of toy bricks to both older adults and children make them ideal for intergenerational play. We conducted a within-subjects study with six grandparent-grandchildren pairs. We compared the interactions and perceived connectedness of the pairs while playing over a distance with either i) MagiBricks or ii) identical regular toy bricks. We found that MagiBricks affected communication dynamics, role-taking, nature of play, and perception of connectedness during playtime compared to regular bricks and were unanimously preferred. We contribute design implications for future systems leveraging (smart) tangibles and fostering intergenerational connectedness.
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