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Subjective Experiences of Interactive Nostalgia

Edited By Ryan Lizardi

From explorations of video game series to Netflix shows to Facebook timelines, Subjective Experiences of Interactive Nostalgia helps readers understand what it is actually like to be nostalgic in a world that increasingly asks us to interact with our past. Interdisciplinary authors tackle the subject from historical, philosophical, rhetorical, sociological, and economic perspectives, all the while asking big questions about what it means to be asked to be active participants in our own mediated histories. Scholars and pop culture enthusiasts alike will find something to love as this collection moves from a look at traditional interactive media, such as video games, to nostalgia within all things digital and ends with a rethinking of the potentials of nostalgia itself.

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3. Lego Historical War Sub-Cultures: Idealized Play and Nostalgia (Jonathan M. Bullinger)

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3. Lego Historical War Sub-Cultures: Idealized Play and Nostalgia

JONATHAN M. BULLINGER

Introduction

Digital interactive environments are fertile areas to raise new questions about the experience of nostalgia. Particularly as these simulations become more familiar, and thus, more convincing to users. However, there is a unique analog both resilient to such digital overtures and one that is also fertile ground for questions of nostalgia: the eighty-six-year-old Danish toy manufacturer, The Lego Group. Specifically, one aspect of human society the company has chosen never to replicate for play: nation-based warfare. As outlined below, interactive nostalgic longing occurs within Lego war toy fan communities at three different levels. I draw upon established academic theory and research on nostalgia, toy soldiers, and Lego’s system of play to illustrate it.

Play is free, ordered, but not ordinary, life (Huizinga 1980). First, Lego’s construction bricks are an organized system of play that provides materials during the idealized childhood to imagine through, and create from. Lego invokes a longing for a type of childhood that may never have existed. A childhood spent constructing an idealized communal future. Second, the larger adult collector market (Adult Fans of Lego or AFOL) for both official Lego products, and the sizeable second-hand customizer Lego market, indulges nostalgia for this individual romanticized childhood. The third level of nostalgia is to look at World War II as the last “ludic” war (Campbell 2008). All three of these...

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