Toys for children continue to be designed and marketed according to gender stereotypes. For example, action, construction, and technology-orientated toys are mainly sold to boys, whilst dolls, and activities such as playing the role of a house-wife are aimed at girls. Both boys and girls, however, can miss out on important experiences if their opportunities are limited by the types of toys they are expected to play with. This project aims to empower children to challenge gender stereotypes early on in life through the modelling of an app game.
The opening screen of the "Opened Toyshop" displays the colourful and playful exterior of the world children are soon to inhabit for the fulfilment of a virtual day's worth of play and work.
All characters have gender-neutral face, hairstyle and clothes, which means users will tend to be not limited by gender after removing gender marking. Meanwhile, their different interests (playing the guitar, dancing, etc.) are emphasised in character design. Because showing to examples of different genders engaged in play can help to break down gender stereotypes.
The main task is that players need to purchase various toys for the stores and if there are more diverse toys in their shop, they will have more score and higher ranking in friends list. These toys are classified depending on their categories and players will get less score if they buy toys which belong to same categories.
The Design Studio is an opportunity for children to explore and experiment with ideas of identity through play. It offers children the opportunity to create and customise toys using colours and patterns to disrupt dominant notions of what boys or girls should play with and aspire to be. One of the designs will be selected periodically to be featured in the toy shop.
One of the most important features of the app game is the quiz, where children's understanding of what gender stereotypes are and look like can be assessed and gauged. It couples with the news page that provides illustrated information on stereotypes and is incentivised by rewarding engagement and high scoring test results with in-game currency.