Building Blocks of the Imagination: Children, Creativity, and the Limits of Disney Infinity
This article examines Disney Infinity, a toys-to-life game launched in 2013. Billed as “a celebration of infinite creativity” ahead of its release, Infinity is the only toys-to-life platform that incorporates open-ended world building into play. It is designed to emulate kids’ physical play by allowing them to mix and match characters and elements from disparate story worlds in a virtual environment. The essay considers Disney’s use of children’s creativity as an economic strategy, arguing that the company’s deployment of creativity is exemplary of the term’s rhetorical appropriation by industry stakeholders across contemporary children’s media culture. Exploring the game’s promotional materials, in-game features, attributes of gameplay, and aesthetics, the article situates Infinity within the broader toys-to-life market, demonstrating Disney’s interest in creativity, particularly in the wake of heightened interest in STEM and STEAM initiatives. It suggests that Disney’s creativity is complex and, at times, contradictory and that it relies upon a romanticized notion of children as “unruly” players. Making Disney characters and iconography available for user-generated appropriation, Infinity attempts to reframe creativity within the parameters of its own intellectual property.