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In what could be the ultimate twist on Toy Story, Henry Jenkins suggests that action figures — those Star Wars and Masters of the Universe dolls from a few decades ago — had the power to spark human creativity and transcend their original function. Jenkins argues such toys served children and young adults as “authoring tools” in stories that grew increasingly elaborate and technologically sophisticated over the years, spawning new kinds of play in our own time.
In a lecture spiced with stills and video, Jenkins demonstrates that early generations of action figures, such as movie, cartoon, and cereal box characters, inspired a cohort of player “creators,” and helped shape the emergent phenomenon of transmedia. This, describes Jenkins, is a storytelling process “where integral elements of a fiction are dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.”
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