When This Box Is Empty, It Can Be Made Into Games and Toys for Displaced Children


A box designed by Lisanne Koning might contain food, water, toiletries, or other goods to be used by people displaced from their homes. But its purpose doesn't end with delivering supplies. As Co.Design reports, the innovative product, called Inside the Box, is made from brightly painted cardboard that can be made into board games and toys for children.

Koning made the box as part of her thesis at Design Academy Eindhoven and recently exhibited it at Dutch Design Week in the Netherlands. The project aims to help young disaster survivors and refugees living in shelters where playtime isn't a priority. "Every child deserves the chance to play untroubled no matter what the circumstances are," she writes on her website. "Playing helps them to cope."

Shapes can be cut out from the boxes with scissors and assembled into colorful forms of entertainment. One example Koning made features two-dimensional illustrations that can be folded into three-dimensional trucks. Another consists of all the components of a board game, including a board, stand-up pieces, and six-sided dice.

Inside the Box hasn't replaced plain boxes at disaster zones and refugee camps yet, but Koning has tested the concept with a group of Syrian refugees in her area. If it makes its way to shelters around the world, it would be the latest smart product offering multi-purposed functionality in a place where resources are scarce.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Feeling Stressed? Playing Tetris Could Help Relieve Your Anxiety


When Nintendo released their handheld Game Boy system in the U.S. and Japan in 1989, the first game most users experimented with was Tetris. Bundled with the system, the clever puzzler—which prompts players to line up a descending array of tiles to create horizontal lines—was the video game equivalent of an addictive drug. Some players described seeing the shapes in their dreams. The game was in the hands of 35 million portable players; by 2010, it had sold 100 million smartphone downloads.

Now, there’s evidence that Tetris players may have a solution to anxiety in the palms of their hands. According to a paper published in the journal Emotion, Tetris has the capability to relieve stress and troubling thoughts by providing a form of distraction.

As part of a larger study about the benefits of distraction, researchers at the University of California, Riverside conducted an experiment on 309 college students who were told to expect some anxiety-provoking news: They were told someone would be offering an evaluation of their physical attractiveness. While they waited for their results, a third of the subjects played a slow-moving, beginner-level version of Tetris; another group played a high-speed variation; and a third played an adaptive version, which automatically adjusted the speed of the game based on the player’s abilities.

Tetris games that were too slow or too fast bored or frustrated players, respectively. But the game that provided a moderate challenge helped reduce the subjects’ perception of their stress levels. They reported a quarter-point higher level of positive emotions on a five-point scale and a half-point reduction of negative emotions. The students still worried about the results of the attractiveness evaluation, but they experienced fewer negative feelings about it.

The key, according to the study, is that the students were experiencing “flow,” a state of mind in which you’re so engrossed in an activity that you lose your sense of self-awareness. While Tetris may be one of the best ways to quickly fall into flow, anything that consumes your attention—playing music, drawing, cooking—is likely to work.

The next time you have to wait for potentially life-altering news, you may find that a Tetris session will help you cope.

[h/t NPR]