Toying with the Singularity: AI, Automata and Imagination in Play with Robots and Virtual Pets

  • Seth GiddingsEmail author
Part of the Studies in Childhood and Youth book series (SCY)


To grasp the emerging possibilities of new developments in the Internet of Toys, paying critical attention to the layered relationships of material technology and intangible imagination is needed. This chapter explores children’s imaginative and playful engagement with toys that demonstrate AI or autonomous behaviour (here robots and virtual pets). It takes a workshop on the design of a new robotic gaming platform as a central case study. Paying close descriptive and analytical attention to moments of interaction with such toys is essential to fully grasp the complex relationships between global technological imaginaries—in this case of AI and artificial life—and the material and embodied workings of imagination in play.


Robots AI Imaginative play Technological imaginary Computer games 



The robot workshop was part of a project with Reach Robotics to prototype their Mecha Monsters toy (now marketed as MekaMon) and was funded by REACT, a Knowledge Exchange Hub for the Creative Industries. REACT ran from 2012 to 2016 and was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK: Thanks to Silas Adekunle, CEO of Reach Robotics, for his enthusiastic cooperation; and many thanks to Penny Giddings for setting up, planning and running the workshop.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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