Defending The ‘Cynical’ Lego Dimensions
Every month in Play Magazine, we take a hot topic and look at the arguments for and against. The subject of debate this time is toys-to-life games like Lego: Dimensions, Skylanders and Disney Infinity. Last week Play’s Paul Walker-Emig argued that they are a glorified advertising platform for selling tat. Now we have the counter argument from Retro Gamer’s Darren Jones.
If you’ve read any of my previous debate columns you’ll know I’m one of Play’s oldest and most cynical freelancers, and yet here I am standing in the pro camp for one of the most cynical marketing products in recent videogame history. Don’t worry, hell hasn’t frozen over, I just like money.
Seriously, though, I really do like money, but I also like value in my gaming and while that seems to be nowhere to be seen in the toys-to-life fad, it really does exist. The most obvious thing to remember about the toys-to-life range, are the children they are marketed at. I used to have imagination, a long time ago when I was younger, but it’s been savagely beaten out of me due to the passage of time and now I save what’s left of it, typically taking it out for very special occasions. Kids have imagination by the bucketload, however, and where I see a plastic piece of tat they see a cool little fellow who they can take to school, use to guard their pillow while they sleep and take on toy raids where they attack Bratz dolls– I’ve seen this first-hand and watching a Jasmine doll get decapitated by a five-year-old wielding Spyro isn’t pretty.
The toys-to-life range of games work as a portal into another world, a world I’ve long since lost the ability to see and feel, but it’s there and kids love it. My 10-year-old daughter has the ability to enter that world and so do the children of my friends and it’s a delight to see. It’s become even more relevant with the release of Lego Dimensions. While I can’t condone Warner Bros. applying its aggressive DLC marketing to physical products, there’s no denying that the toys that make up Lego Dimensions have even greater crossover. I couldn’t finish my review of Lego Dimensions, for example, because Gandalf was visiting a Lego friend’s house. I still don’t know what he was doing in the master bedroom, but it proves that they’re fun to play with.
As a parent, I like value for money for my kids and the toys-to-life games do offer just that. They make good pick-ups if the kids have been good, while the play sets will typically get you a good six hours-plus of quality quiet time, which every parent knows is worth its weight in gold. Ultimately, though, I love being able to sit down with my daughter and share one of my favourite passions with her. Yes, we can do it with other games, but the creativity of Disney Infinity is brilliant, as proven by when she’s excitedly shown me a new racetrack she’s created in the streets of Agrabah. She’ll also typically sit near the portal, meaning I don’t have to get off my bum to change a character when it dies.
There are plenty of valid arguments you can make against the toys-to-life genre and they’re become a lot easier to criticise with the ridiculous assault on the wallet that is Lego Dimensions, but as long as these games continue to give my child satisfaction, they will continue to be welcome in my house and in my console.