PLAYLAND Revisited


The New York Times had an article on gender toys and Ugly Dolls this Sunday. They claim that Ugly Dolls are particularly appealing to boys.

Here is a website devoted to vinyl toys and a link to blank DIY toys you can buy and alter…

This week we wrapped up our DIGITAL PLAYLAND projects in Digital Studio 2 class.

view gallery of projects

Students were asked to investigate recreational and playful opportunities for adults in digital culture. Some areas of interest : virtual worlds, video games, web comics, character design and toys created using digital tools.

Here’s an image from Sam Pickard’s project. His wacky character designs for an imagined video game are created using 3d modeling techniques.

More project ideas and reflections by students…


their original ideas / plans


final Digital Playland projects…


10 thoughts on “PLAYLAND Revisited

  1. Digital Playland – Project Reflection
    Name: Marek Seta
    Project Title: Superstar DJ (Video Game)

    1) When given the criteria for our digital playland project, I automatically thought of doing something that revolved around DJ’ing and all the aspects of being a DJ and playing music. Guitar Hero was my inspiration for creating this virtual DJ game. When playing Guitar Hero, the player is actually holding a guitar in their hands and strumming notes that correspond with the notes being displayed in the video game. I would also use the same idea, only instead of a guitar playing notes, it would be a set of turntables and mixer creating effects and mixes during gameplay. I know that in Vancouver, all the kids want to become DJ’s, its almost becoming a phenomenon in that area. A Dj’ing game would be perfect for any audience and would attract many people to play. This game would take all the fun aspects of Dj’ing and simplifying it in a way the user could easily play the game.

    2) My ideation process for this game was to base it roughly on the same idea as Guitar Hero, only make it into my own. I was going to the same kind of techniques they used in their layout for the actual gameplay and how the game would function. The actual design layout was formulated by what I thought was going to work well with the idea of a DJ game. The colors would all correspond with a certain DJ and his style of music. For example, Yoji Biomehanika is a Hard Trance DJ (Hard Trance is a genre of music in which it evokes a feeling which is uplifting and energetic) which I used the color green. I used text that I thought fit well with “electronic” music and I also used vector circles to simulate the idea of records.

    3) My work process was fairly easy for me as I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had a good idea of what DJ’s I wanted to use, what scenes I wanted to put them in, how the gameplay would look and what the cover would also look like. I started off by creating my characters first, then making the scenes (the arena’s the DJ’s would play in) and then the cover of the game. After I had designed all of those, I created a menu screen.

    4) Overall, I am very happy with the way this project turned out. I knew I had a very strong idea from the start and that I just needed to put the effort into the project to make it successful. After a small critique of what I thought was a finished product, I had some good feedback which I took into consideration and made the necessary changes. I am glad I had the chance to go back and make changes because it solidified by project and now I am happy with the result. I would like to take this Idea to EA Sports in Vancouver and pitch the idea of actually creating this game as I think it would be a success and could possibly become a great video game.


  2. In the Digital Playland project I began thinking about toys such as the vinyal dolls and began researching online for other toys that were similar in structure and overall concept and look. I came across this website that had a series of jumungo buds and designer toys. I began with the basic head shape and started playing around with ideas, not having anything in mind in particular then I came up with this shape for an eye, and it turned out to look like something I should pursue and continued with the idea. The idea grew and evolved into a Japanese culture based cartoon figure. I then began to think about who this may appeal to based on the image. I came up with the age group of 18 to 50 basically because I don’t think that the older age group would appreciate these types of characters and style of playing cards.

    In the process of designing the basic cartoon characters, I wanted something that had a very clean yet interesting appeal to them. I wanted them to be all unified and recognizable as a set. So the use of basic colors came into place, using similar values and tones. As I designed the character a space in the center appeared where I was going to fill in with design and have it change on each character, but then I came up with the idea to use my personal identity to keep all characters unified, and changing the colors of them to differentiate them.

    During the production phase, I came across several issues. The first one was trying to pin point a style that I wanted in the character so I did research and I began to design right away because I had this image in my head but it was somewhat unrecognizable, so I put my imagination to work. Another issue that I had was that my hard drive on my laptop crashed so I lost a few weeks of work on this project, so I had to take what I remembered and recreate it, which was really difficult. And another struggle was the printing of the cards doing back to back. Lining up each card perfectly is very difficult task.
    Overall I think the concept of my project of playing cards were very successful. I believe that they could be easily marketed to the age group that is specified, and are appealing to the eye. The one thing that I would change is to give the letters K,Q, J etc on the cards more space, for they are a bit to close to the edge after cutting them. I plan on fixing and perfecting these cards to create a full deck so they are useable. I would also like to add more Japanese games to the rules booklet.


  3. She Devil Dolls are novelty adult toys that I have come up with for Project Playland. For the purposes of Project Playland, I was to create an idea based off of toys or games of any sort. Lately I have been noticing the Vinyl Toy world. The idea of these toys is amazing to me. They can be so simple or very complex. The themes of Vinyl Toys can be anything, and I feel as though they are targeted at the adult audience, just like my toys. Although my idea for She Devil Dolls is loosely based off of Vinyl Toys, they were also inspired by my recent noticing of the hidden sexual themes in toys, cartoons, exc. Children may not notice the adult themes in what they are watching or playing with, but adults notice them. My dolls are sort of poking fun at the idea of sexual themes in what may seem to be a children’s world.

    I first started by making an image in Illustrator of what I wanted my doll to look like. I didn’t do any sketches; everything was initially done on the computer. After my doll was created I started with the box and the cards.

    I started by making the doll first. I went to Michel’s and simply looked for objects I could make a doll out of. I discovered some wooden balls, and immediately fell in love with them, because I knew I could somehow make a doll out of them. I also purchased a plastic doll. It was really fun trying to assemble this doll and make it look “X�? rated. It was nice to get away from the computer for a while and work on something like that. After I made my doll I was able to photograph it and utilize the photographs on the box I made for the doll. I chose to use red and black as the main color scheme because I feel those colors are very much related to sex, and are also very appealing to the eye. I then created the Chesty collectible card that comes in the box with the doll. I thought it would be nice if every doll came with a collectable card and then a card of another doll that is related to Chesty. One problem I ran into was the fact that my box turned out a little big for the doll, but not by much. I could have prevented this by test printing more, but that was an option for me at the time. I decided to ultimately line the inside of the box with black felt because I thought it made the doll stand out more inside the box, and it also gives it a very clean look.

    I am quite happy with the outcome of this project. If I did it over, I would probably make the box a little differently and change the design of it a little. The quality of the doll isn’t the greatest, but I believe that as a designer, the box is more crucial than the actual doll. I’m pretty proud of myself for making such a complete project. I would like to eventually make more of the cards and create more of the dolls, and their boxes.


  4. Digital Playland: Project Reflection
    Courtney Bomkamp
    The Weethers

    After researching various toys in today’s culture I was instantly drawn to the Vinyl toy collection. I found the figurines very innovative and fun for all ages. With that, I wished to go a step farther and concentrate my project on plush toys as well as figurines. There, I got my inspiration from the Ugly Dolls. I liked how the Ugly Doll collection was so simple, yet so successful. My mission then was to create a line that was “ugly�?, but also had a cute factor. My desired audience was young kids. Moreover, I chose weather as my focus to design around because people may not perceive that topic cute up front. I wanted something that could stir up interest that no one has seen before.

    After observing the Peecol and Vinyl toy collection I decided to create one body form and alter the facial expressions and color, therefore, there would be an easily distinguishable unified factor to the dolls. Sticking to a simplified look, I chose to create gumdrop like bodies with large feet. Each doll has color that corresponds with the particular weather it is portraying. The color palette is quiet bright to attract children and give off a fun vibe. I created the plush doll with the use of stuffing; however, I would like to see them made with a softer substance similar to Beanie Babies.

    During the production phase I discovered so many different ways I could go with this project. I originally had long arms on the stuffed toys and I was thinking they could come with candy. I thought about including candy gumdrops to match their body, or even attach candy that complemented their individual weather. Making a three dimensional version of my design really helped me better understand what I could and could not do. For example, the plush toy would not be able to stand as well with the long arms I originally gave them. The candy idea was out then because I did not wish to have them in packaging, but in a pile comparable to Beanie Babies. I solved this issue by placing the long, silly arms on the key chains instead. My last matter I found most challenging was naming the overall line. I was stuck on making the name with weather in mind. I was not satisfied with “Sweet Seasons�? or “The Witty Weathers.�? With the class’ help I realized the name had to be short and sweet to catch on. I’m happy with my final choice, which is the Weethers. I think the name perfectly matches the goofy attitude of these strange plush toys.

    I believe my final presentation of the project was successful. I included my rough ideas, the color plan, as well as large images of the characters. I thought the hard work put into making a real Weether payed off. As a designer I was able to see my constrictions and learn from the process. I gave more thought into how it would be made with fabric choices and how it would be able to stand. After completing “Whirl�? I discovered it was essential I simplify the other characters much more. In the future, I would love to create a keychain as well as figurines out of clay. I also see myself marketing the Weethers additionally with other products, such as notebooks, pillowcases, and t-shirts.


  5. Rachael Lybeck

    Reflection on:
    Hot Mess Celebrity Trading Cards

    1.My inspiration for this digital playland project comes from the media and our society (including my own) obsession with celebrities and their “mistakes�?. I didn’t have to do much research for the project because I already knew a lot of the things these celebrities have done. I did although look at websites like and for photos.My audience would be younger people who have grown up watching these celebrities and have a sense of humor about the situations they get themselves into. This idea interests me because it amazes me that people can look up to these people and think what they do is cool.

    2. The process I had for this project started with creating small cards with actual colors instead of the neon colors in the end. The regular colors didn’t seem to be working because it made the entire piece too mudy and drab. When I added the neon colors I also changed the stroke so that each piece stood out which also made the cards seem more like a joke which is what I was going for. I had a hard time with the type because I felt a struggle between psychedelic and he deconstructed types. I ended up going with the deconstructed hand type called Selfish (very fitting).

    3.During the production phase I struggled with the box shape because I made the cards tarot sized but I didn’t have a template for the packaging. To get around this I found a playing card box and took it apart and added the right amount to make the cards fit well.

    4.In the end I really feel my project worked as a whole. I like that it can also work as individual pieces and in larger formats. I thought my packaging was really busy at first, but when assembling it I found it worked well and it needed to have the same feel as the cards inside. Next I am playing with the idea of adding more women to the Hot Mess pack and then adding a mens expansion pack with some male celebrity screw ups.


  6. 2D Digital Studio 2 Class
    David Warner

    “Fraud Waste and Abuse�?

    These five designs are concept characters for a potential comic book detailing the life and times of the Minnesota 34th ID’s 125th STRIKE Battalion while on deployment to Iraq. Meant to show a dark humor and tongue in cheek style of comic articling the 2 year deployment. Meant to enlighten those that can never know what we went through over there and remind those of us who do.

    The design came fairly easily, 5 characters who are a conglomerate of and entire 15 person squad in real life. I chose the one style of drawing I have to create them, along with real Iraq pictures for backgrounds. All the colors flow together, using the army’s color scheme and the harsh lighting conditions of Iraq.

    I worked on this by first creating rough sketches of the characters setting up who to conglomerate with who, cutting and forming each character into a unique and definable person. I wanted each character to have a set uniform based off the Army Combat Uniform or ACU in various stages of wear based on each personality. Butters the timid to be in full combat gear, Fride (free day) to be in full garrison uniform but always with shades and always his hands in his pockets, etc. There where issues trying to get a set uniform for each but I think it came together nicely.

    I really like how these designs came together, there was a struggle with the names on a picture background, but I feel I came to a good solution to that. There were many hours involved in creating these characters preceded by 2 years of “research.�? I really look forward to actually creating these characters in a real comic book!


  7. Digital Playland Project Reflection
    Josh Faust¬

    For this project the PC game Titan Quest inspired me that is a RPG style game that takes mythological creatures and brings them to the days of the Titans where a warrior must fight each of them to win the game. My desired audience for this project is teens and up, because some of the creatures might disturb a younger audience.
    My plan for this project was to create my own mythological creatures by digital composing them from images I found online. As for a color scheme I wanted all three of my creations to have an almost rougher rust color. After I created these monsters in Photoshop I brought each of them into illustrator to take out some colors.
    One of the hardest phases I went through while designing these creatures was getting each body part to match in color. Another problem was how I was going to display the final piece. Since sketches from a book inspired me I thought it only made sense to display my own pieces in book form. I really like how my final pieces look, however I do wish that I had a stiffer paper, almost like a plastic.


  8. 2D Digital Studio

    For the digital playland project the first idea came from an AMV. An AMV is an animated music video that includes anime that has been collaborated together that matches the music that has been put to the video.

    The design of the character was an inspiration that I had done from another character in another story that I had done before so I didn’t have to worry about some of the facial expressions in that of trying to make it faster and easier on my part. The background was what I found on the Internet and was altered to match the music theme that I had which was related to rave dancing in a way.

    I started the project with just sketches of different dances movements and scanned them into the computer. After I had copied the images and put color to the character and would move an arm or so to make the movement all in photo shop. Sometimes for each movement I would have to draw a new hand or so just to get the movement accurate so the hand doesn’t look like it’s going the wrong way. It was a still by still animation and after I had the picture the way I wanted I would move all the clips to image ready to put it on QuickTime and later would move it all to iMovie to put affects to it and get ride of unnecessary things that I didn’t want in the music video.

    My project was successful in a sense of what I had to do in what time. The animation wasn’t as smooth as a professional but was good overall to the design and difficult motions to the character. For the first time doing animation in any way this was a good way to understand or even make up my own way of doing things and made me understand what something that go into animation in some ways even if I wasn’t doing it the best way or the fastest way. I know my animation project for the digital playland was a very successful and fun project.


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