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TT talks Lego Dimensions and setting new courses for play

What do you get when you combine The Lego Movie with The Simpsons, Scooby-Doo, The Wizard of Oz and more? The answer is  Lego Dimensions, an upcoming toys-to-life video game due out in September. Wendy Smolen talks to one of the game's producers Mark Warburton about setting new rules - and then breaking all of them.
July 22, 2015

What do you get when you combine The Lego Movie with The Simpsons, Back to the Future, Scooby-Doo, The Wizard of Oz…and more? The answer is Lego Dimensions. Due out in September, this innovative game is already creating buzz with its mashup of characters and universes all playing together. I talked to Mark Warburton, associate producer at UK-based TT Games, to delve a little deeper into the physical and digital world play and to get the back story on this new way to create adventures.

Give me the 411: what is Lego Dimensions?

Lego Dimensions is our entry into the toys-to-life category with a story featuring Lord Vortec, a brand-new villain, who wants to reshape the Lego multiverse in his image. In his pursuit to do this, he manages to upset a few rather powerful heroes – Batman, Gandalf and Wyldstyle – who go on a quest across varied worlds featuring some of the most beloved characters from popular culture. This is the first time that you can use actual Lego minifigures in a Lego video game and play with who you want when you want.

Blended learning is the new mantra in classrooms. Is “blended play” the rallying cry in playrooms?

Our Lego games have always strived to ensure that what you see on screen can be created with Lego bricks, but why not make it so what is created with Lego bricks can be seen on screen? The idea of people of all ages playing this game then continuing the adventure with their own imagination is a pretty exciting one.

Lego Dimensions uses the hashtag #Breaktherules. What rules does it break?

Well, not only can you have up to seven characters, vehicles or items on the Lego Toy Pad at any one time, but there are no restrictions as to what you can play with and when. Everything is usable in every area of the game. Superman can drive a Batmobile. The Wicked Witch can talk to Scooby. There are no rules. You can play with your favorite characters whenever you want.

Other companies are also combining characters and worlds in real and virtual play. But the Lego Dimensions Toy Pad seems to be a real point of difference. What makes it unique?

When you start playing, you build the Toy Pad using actual Lego bricks. Then we incorporate the Toy Pad into game play so you use it as a sort of second controller that really makes you feel like you are interacting with the worlds. As I said, all the characters and vehicles can be used whenever you want, with no restrictions. You can play with up to seven characters at once on the Toy Pad.

So many toys today embed play patterns with technology. Is this “ruining” it for plain old Lego bricks, and other open-ended toys?

I sure hope not. We were very adamant in development that these had to be the same Lego bricks that you already have around the house. We want you to feel like the toys that you own are all part of this living world that Lego Dimensions gives you a gateway into. The characters and pieces are fully compatible with all the sets you already own and can be pulled apart and rebuilt however you want (Having Homer Simpson’s head on Batman’s body is a favorite of mine). I hope that toys continue to fuel the imagination of everyone for years to come and our games help give some inspiration for that.

Get the latest on the intersection of real-world and digital play at Sandbox West, the first Sandbox Summit in LA, October 12 and 13. Register at www.sandboxsummit.org.

Send comments to me at wendy@playsciencelabs.com.

 

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