Bright bricks, dark play: On the impossibility of studying LEGO

Giddings, S. (2014) Bright bricks, dark play: On the impossibility of studying LEGO. In: Wolf, M. J., ed. (2014) LEGO Studies: Examining the Building Blocks of a Transmedial Phenomenon. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415722872 Available from:

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It is generally recognized that the pleasures of LEGO do not end once the instructions in a particular set have been followed and the model depicted on the box is accurately realized. Generations of children have —just as the manufacturers intended— pulled apart the pristine model and begun again, making new vehicles, environments and creatures. The new set joins the larger box of LEGO full of older bricks, and is mixed and hybridized. This hybridization has become particularly evident in recent decades where licensed and themed sets (space, homes, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Friends, etc.) and their specific colors, decals and shapes get jumbled and repurposed. But if the vast majority of time spent playing with LEGO does not follow the instructions, how can it be studied? This chapter will acknowledge the impossibility of fully accounting for LEGO play, but it will offer some approaches to it, some hints at this lost multitude of transitory gameworlds and constructions. Through ethnographic studies of contemporary play and memory-work with older children and adults, it will trace particular instances of the interactions between the materiality of LEGO and the phantasmagoric worlds of play it affords.

Item Type:Book Section
Additional Information:This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in LEGO Studies: Examining the Building Blocks of a Transmedial Phenomenon on 17 November 2014, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:Lego, toys, children's culture, ethnography, microethology, children's media
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education > Department of Arts and Cultural Industries
Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education > School of Film and Journalism
ID Code:23392
Deposited By: Dr S. Giddings
Deposited On:07 Aug 2014 12:58
Last Modified:02 Aug 2016 15:02

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