From the start I was interested in the small compartment in the Avakai’s base. I thought it would be of interest to young children who I knew from personal experiences liked to collect “stuff” in containers. Here are a couple of examples of collections from my young child:
Stones have been reoccurring features of collections since my child was very young. At times I would find pockets full of them before tipping his clothes in the washing. On most occasions I would throw them in the bin but one day I asked him what they were for and he said they were Star Wars rocks for a game he played with friends in the school playground. This reminded me of work by the academic Karen Wohlwend who has looked at how children substitute everyday items to represent digital technology when none is available for them to play with. Also of work by Jackie Marsh and Julia Bishop about how children carry over popular culture themes into their playground play.
The compartment in the Avakai can currently only be used in the non-tech enhanced prototype as when the technology is installed it is currently kept in this space. As a result there was no way of getting insight into how the children might use this space with the final technology enhanced Avakai. However, the compartment featured in the children’s play of the non-tech enhanced Akavai in two ways:
- It became a storage space for collections of “stuff” in the same vein as the examples above. Children on the project put feathers, sequins and stickers in the base. Sometimes they told other children and asked them to come find their Avakai and its hidden treasures.
- . The compartment became a symbol for the stomach of the Avakai. Imaginary strawberries were placed inside when it was sick, as was an entire midnight feast when it had a sleepover with another Avakai. Also a brick was placed inside to represent medicine when the Avakai was sick.