Blue Peter Create-a-Make

The brief for Create-a-Make was to create an online creative toy for Blue Peter viewers based upon the famous “Here’s one we prepared earlier” part of the show.

It was essential that the toy be simple to use but facilitate the construction of a wide variety of creations, from space rockets and castles to robots and monsters. In-keeping with the original, all construction materials would be based on discarded household objects such as toilet rolls and matchboxes.

After a lot of thought (and joyful recollection!) about what made building things fun when I was a kid, two aspects really stood out: the tactile pleasure of building things with your hands, and the joy of playing with what you had made.

Rather than just provide a static canvas for people to lay out their creations, the design was build around these two key aspects. As a result the user interface was designed to feel more like a game than a 3D modelling package. A physics engine was employed to provide a real-world feel so the objects could collide and be stuck to each other, as well as reacting to gravity and springs. This design managed to simplify the interface while also feeling true to the original concept: rather than clicking on arrows to move the objects, you literally had to pick them up and pull them about, putting the tactileness of creation to the fore.