July 19, 2018
The Labo and the library
by Michael Seidlinger
Have you heard of Nintendo’s latest bold interactive experiment, Labo? Like most Nintendo innovations, it breaks down into amazingly simple ingredients that, when combined, become something else entirely. In Labo’s case, we’re talking corrugated cardboard, reflective tape, and the Labo game cartridge (for use with Nintendo’s latest console, the Switch). By utilizing tape, cardboard, and the game device, players are encouraged to make their own constructions, play (or test) them, and discover new ideas.
How does it work? The cardboard is the focus, with the reflective tape binding things together, key to getting the Switch to respond to each cardboard creation (using some proprietary infrared sensors). The trick here is that you can’t just fold the cardboard into anything; each piece has perforations and patterns that show players where precisely to bend, cut, etc. It’s not unlike a piece of IKEA furniture. After the creations are made, players get to use them in a variety of mini-games. It might seem odd, and may be a little awkward, but the ability to see your creations come alive on screen has left a number of players rapt.
Some of the things you can create include a robot, a fishing rod, a motorcycle, and a piano. All good and fine but, yup, if you’re reading MobyLives, you’re probably thinking what I’m thinking: Might you be able to create interactive books, impossible bookshelves, and other literary concoctions? Justin Hoenke, writing for InfoToday, shares a similar hope. Though the two available Labo Kits (Variety and Robot, $69.99 and $79.99 respectively) limit you to the aforementioned pre-designed cardboard creations, Labo’s Toy-Con Garage is where the real possibilities begin and imaginations run wild.
The Toy-Con Garage lets you take an idea and make, experiment with, and develop the creation. It is surprisingly vast and could take quite a bit of time, depending on the proposed creation. “With enough tinkering, some amazing things can come of it,” says Hoenke. He isn’t kidding. I dug around for a few minutes and found footage of people creating their own instruments (like a guitar and a drum) and evidence of programming possibilities with players recreating the popular mobile sensation, Flappy Bird, and even a rudimentary light gun game. Nintendo’s innovation is clearly galvanizing people to create music and games, but what about us bookish people? Hoenke claims, “The Toy-Con Garage is a tool that youth services librarians will really want to dive into, as it could unlock the potential for some really fun and immersive STEAM learning programs at the library.” This may very well be a bookish individual’s ace up their sleeve.
Like what Minecraft is doing for reading habits, Labo offers an immense number of possibilities.
Michael Seidlinger is the Library and Academic Marketing Manager at Melville House.