Engineering Play: A Cultural History of Children’s Software by Mizuko Ito

By Mizuko Ito

This present day, desktops are a part of kids' daily lives, used either for play and for studying. We envy children's typical affinity for pcs, the convenience with which they click on out and in of electronic worlds. Thirty years in the past, besides the fact that, the pc belonged nearly completely to enterprise, the army, and academia. In Engineering Play, Mizuko Ito describes the transformation of the pc from a device linked to adults and paintings to 1 associated with young ones, studying, and play. Ito provides an account of a pivotal interval within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineteen Nineties, which observed the increase of a brand new type of buyer software program designed in particular for hassle-free school--aged young children. "Edutainment" software program sought to combination a variety of academic philosophies with interactive gaming and leisure, and incorporated such titles as quantity Munchers, Oregon path, KidPix, and the place on the planet Is Carmen Sandiego?.

The children's software program increase (and the bust that followed), says Ito, might be visible as a microcosm of the negotiations surrounding new know-how, young ones, and schooling. the tale she tells is either a testimonial to the transformative energy of innovation and a cautionary story approximately its obstacles.

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Extra info for Engineering Play: A Cultural History of Children’s Software (The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning)

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This transformation is an indicator of how media content is inseparable from the economic conditions in which it is produced and circulates. Even when products are designed with the hope of transforming socioeconomic relations, market responsiveness means that these products often succumb to the inertia of established cultural categories, market segments, and social distinctions. In the 1980s, educators with high ideals founded new companies, and these companies distributed new technology and products to a small market of like-minded educators and computer aficionados.

Instead of being sold at specialty computer and hobby shops, most children’s software was being sold at superstores such as Cosco, Walmart, CompUSA, Toys ‘R’ Us, and Office Depot. Career CEOs pushed aside company founders, and by the end of the 1990s, the children’s software industry had largely consolidated under two conglomerates, one headed by Mattel and the other by media industry giant Cendant. 3 million. The latter in turn sold TLC to Riverdeep for $60 million in 2002 (Pham 2002). In 1999, Leapfrog Enterprises introduced a new hit product, the LeapPad, a platform that integrated physical books with digital interactivity (Helft 2008).

Although consumer products were being developed at this time, they were oriented to a small market of like-minded educators and parents. Because of Apple II’s minimalist platform, development costs were low enough that extensive sales were not required to support development. 1). Most of the early innovators in educational software had backgrounds in formal education before turning to commercial efforts. 1 Screen shot from Rocky’s Boots. Reproduced with permission from The Learning Company, Inc.

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